Children at risk of drowning because 'careless' parents are fixated on their phones, German officials say

'People treat swimming pools like a kindergarten and simply don’t pay attention,' say lifeguards

Wednesday 15 August 2018 21:03 BST
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Children may be at risk if their parents are distracted, officials said (File photo)
Children may be at risk if their parents are distracted, officials said (File photo)

German lifeguards have hit out at “careless” parents who put their children at risk by staring at their phones instead of supervising swimming family members.

More than 300 people have drowned in Germany so far this year and authorities have put the spotlight on smartphones – as well as an apparent drop in the number of children learning to swim.

“More and more, parents are looking at their smartphone and no longer to the left or right and certainly not to their children. It is sad that the parents behave so carelessly today,” Peter Harzheim, of the German Federation of Swimming Pool Supervisors, told the Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We’re experiencing on a daily basis that people treat swimming pools like a kindergarten and simply don’t pay attention.”

And nearly half of German fifth-year school pupils could not swim safely or at all, he added in an interview in July.

Achim Wiese, of the German Lifeguard Association, also linked technology use with children getting into danger while swimming or playing in the water.

“Too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice – when your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away,” he told The Guardian.

Risk-taking and overconfidence are also common reasons for drownings, the organisation said earlier this year.

According to a report in Spiegel, Germany’s parliament is pushing for an increase in swimming lesson provision nationally.

About one-quarter of elementary schools in the country now lack access to a pool, it said. ”There is unfortunately no systematic funding,” Axel Dietrich, educational officer at the German Swimming Association, told the site.

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