In Sweden, drowning is the most common fatal accident for children between the ages of one and six, and the problem is often the result of poor parental supervision.
In June, the country recorded the highest number of drowning deaths for that month in the 2000s.
To combat drowning, Swedish insurance firm Trygg-Hansa launched the Badläge (Beach Mode) initiative.
When the Badläge app is activated, the smartphone can be used only for emergency calls, with a warning sign that encourages parents to focus on their children (see below). Unlike phones simply set to 'flight mode', Badläge also blocks offline apps when activated.
Mobile phones can be a lethal distraction on the beach with Swedes spending an average of 3.5 hours each day on their phones.
New research by Trygg-Hansa found that 27 per cent of Swedish parents admit to losing sight of their child when swimming and 30 per cent are concerned their children could be harmed when they are in the water.
“Brain damage from a lack of oxygen occurs after only three or four minutes under water. Many people do not understand how quickly events can move if there is a lack of supervision, and that children may actually be in mortal danger. At the beach, parents must oversee smaller children all the time,” says Andreas Claesson, lead researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Centre for Resuscitation Science.
Alexandra Gahnström, a children’s insurance specialist at Trygg-Hansa, said it is important for parents to put their phones away when their children are swimming.
“I urge everyone to turn Beach Mode on, not least mentally,” she said. “When Beach Mode is activated, the phone is silenced, and you can only use it for emergency calls. It makes it easier for parents to stay vigilant and feel confident that their children are safe in the water.”