Where supervision is necessary in sports such as gymnastics, swimming or any sport or recreation activity with children participants, cell phone use can be dangerous.
Why is it dangerous for a lifeguard or parent supervising children at a pool to be distracted by his or her phone?
A person can drown in less than 60 seconds. A lifeguard or parent who is supervising children can easily be distracted for more than a minute by a text, email, or social media post.
If texting while driving is dangerous, isn’t supervising children swimming or playing a sport equally as hazardous?
Any distraction while supervising children can be result in serious consequences, including injury or death. This is especially true when children are in or around a swimming pool. The next time you go to a pool, lake, or ocean, take a look around and observe whether adults are focusing on their children or on their phone.
Texting or Distraction by a Lifeguard Can Lead to Drowning.
A lifeguard is hired specifically to scan the water and react immediately to swimmers who are in trouble. You may be surprised by the following story, which illustrates this.
While swimming my usual mile in a lifeguarded pool, I noticed that the lifeguard had his cell phone in hand and appeared to be texting! He did this while small children and adults swam at their own peril. The scene was less dramatic than it might appear. Swim lessons were taking up half the lanes and there was an instructor in the pool for every few children. Parents filled the stands as well, but some of them were also focusing more on their cell phones than on their young charges.
With cell phones in the hands of almost everyone, it should be assumed that serious injury and accidents will occur when people participating and watching sport and recreation are using such devices. Where supervision is necessary in sports such as gymnastics, swimming or any sport or recreation activity with children participants, cell phone use can be dangerous.
Are Spectators at Risk When Using Their Phones?
Baseball fans that are seated in the stands will have increased chance of being hit by balls if they are distracted by texting. This would also be true in any other ball sport, such as golf, soccer, or basketball. Hockey is also dangerous for spectators who might be hit by an errant puck. For spectators who choose to focus on their phones rather than the game, it makes sense for them to select a seat that is protected by netting or plexiglass. This might not always be possible and so spectators should pay attention when a ball or puck is in play.
What are the concerns for distracted vehicle operation and sports?
Some sports involve operating a vehicle, such as a golf cart or bicycle. Certainly, texting or using a cell phone in those pursuits is not advised. All operators of any vehicle should give 100% attention when they are moving forward.
Is it safe to use cell phones in locker rooms?
Cell phone use in locker rooms is generally prohibited because of cameras that may invade users’ privacy. Signs are usually posted to make this rule clear. Since locker rooms may not be monitored, this rule may easily be violated, especially when patrons don't understand the reasons for the rule or feel that it shouldn't apply to them.
Given the danger of phone use, should spectators, parents, supervisors and participants be prohibited from carrying a cell phone at an event or sports facility?
Taking cell phones away from patrons increases liability and also takes away a means of calling for assistance if a problem at the facility or event arises. It is probably best to develop cell phone and texting rules and guidelines and communicate them to participants and patrons. Once these rules are in place, consistent enforcement is key.