Parents worry kids are “diving” into the virtual world, instead of swimming in the real one, a new survey shows.
Just in time for summer, the Water Quality and Health Council released a poll finding 86 percent of parents believe technology—video game, tablets and smartphones—interferes with family activities like swimming.
Asking 1,000 adults who have at least one child under the age of 14, the public health group learned that 94 percent think children spend too much time with electronic devices and not enough time outdoors. The same numbers of parents worry about the adverse health effects of inactivity on children. They also believe electronic gadgets affect social skills.
In addition, when given a choice, they say the “smell of chlorine” is the most powerful summertime memory.
“The sights, sounds and smells of summer are real, not virtual,” said Chris Wiant, Ph.D., Chair of the Water Quality and Health Council in a statement. “For children, the distractions of electronic devices are proving to be tough competition for more physical activities like swimming. But it’s clear from this survey that parents want their children to power off and dive in.”
More than social skills and other health benefits, swimming in a well-maintained pool with proper pH levels are also beneficial to children with asthma.
“Studies have shown that children with asthma may have fewer symptoms when swimming regularly compared with other asthmatic children,” says Michele Hlavsa of the Healthy Swimming program of the Centers for Disease Control.
The Council recommends several tips for keeping kids safe this summer:
- Host a family meeting to discuss the appropriate balance of hours on electronic devices and hours spent exercising outdoors.
- Discuss the health benefits of being physically active and work with your children to set goals for themselves.
- Build family time into the schedule that involves face-to-face social interaction without electronic devices.
- Locate the municipal or public pool in your area.
- Make sure children learn to swim, and are supervised and swimming in a properly maintained pool.
The study is part of the Council’s Healthy Pools awareness initiative. For more information on summer pool safety, or to request a free pool testing kit, visit healthypools.org.