Parents, put your handphones away

THE City of Stirling is running a new campaign urging parents to keep their eyes off their smartphones when children are around water.

The ‘i-watch’ campaign was created in response to Royal Life Saving Australia’s WA Drowning Summary and will target distracted parents at the beach and the City’s aquatic centres.

I-watch will encourage parents to ‘connect with their kids, not their phones’ in a series of posters.

Royal Life Saving’s report found that a lack of appropriate adult supervision was a contributing factor in all toddler drowning deaths and near drownings and that supervision was absent for 5-10 minutes in the majority of incidents.

According to the 2015 report, the highest percentage increase for drownings is in the toddler category of 0-4 years old.

Royal Life Saving WA spokeswoman Lauren Nimmo said there were still too many families affected by drowning.

“It is vital that we continue to remind the community of the risks and what actions they can take to keep their children safe when around any aquatic location,” Ms Nimmo said.

“Close adult supervision is the most effective way to prevent childhood drowning and more work is needed to educate parents on the importance of supervision and how to supervise children effectively around the water.”

Mayor Giovanni Italiano said the City’s lifeguards had reported an increase of distracted parents due to devices such as smartphones.

“This trend has also been observed by our professional lifeguards both at the beach and at our aquatic centres with many parents having an unintentional casual attitude to keeping an eye on their kids when around lifeguards,” Cr Italiano said.

“Instead of taking that selfie, checking your email, Facebook newsfeed, texting or how that bid is going on ebay, put the phone down and connect with your children.”