Are you a young enough dog to learn a new trick?

10 Feb

I discovered a very cool app for your iPhone this week – teaching your child to swim. Check out uSwim Australia, or go directly to iTunes to download the free app

As a mom, I love how this program works. It embraces critical aspects of keeping kids safe in the water – it is a gradual, fun and positive introduction to the water for very young children. It follows building blocks of skill development through repetition, age-appropriate and positive lessons. And, it centers on one-on-one interaction with a parent/caregiver so your child feels safe and associates positive time in the water with an adult.

But what’s really intriguing about this initiative is how it turns accepted wisdom on its head and embraces new technology to reach a wide range of people. It uses technology to reach parents and caregivers who have regular, easy access to water where they can teach their child every day. Yes, it’s aimed at people affluent enough to own an iPhone or iPad, and yes, it’s important to get your child in regular structured classes with a professional, but but who’s to say the concept can’t be expanded using available technology to reach an even broader range of people?

Let’s look at the evidence: third world country economies are being transformed by the ability to transfer small amounts of money via cell phones; governments are toppling, aided by Twitter and Facebook. With one child drowning every minute across the globe it seems like high time to take a good hard look at how new technology can end an old problem.

Kudos to uSwim for pushing the envelope!



4 Responses to “Are you a young enough dog to learn a new trick?”

  1. Nick Folley February 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Thanks for helping make more people aware. I think that this is one of the first steps toward real action in water safety… technology can now truly help give us a world approach to stopping preventable drownings.

    • Rebecca Wear Robinson February 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

      Thank you Nick – it’s people who are willing to upend the status quo and look at problems from a different angle that will make a difference.

  2. bevpayton February 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    This is so interesting. A bunch of us in the NDPA were brainstorming ideas to get weekly text messages about drowning prevention out to young moms. Swimming lessons and water safety skills are certainly important for kids. But teaching parents that they need barriers to protect children from unsupervised access to water is another hurdle we must overcome. Think there is a market for a free water safety app?

    • Rebecca Wear Robinson February 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

      Bev, I believe harnessing the power of social media is absolutely critical in facilitating social change. The challenge is having a true conversation, in engaging people who want to be engaged in the conversation and not just becoming annoying spam. There are a number of outstanding safety apps out there, think of the First Aid app that kept that guy alive in the recent earthquake in Haiti. I would think a comprehensive and engaging app related to children and water safety would be a great addition, as long as it covers the full range of ‘layers’ needed when it comes to water safety and is empowering instead of fear-inspiring.

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