Did you know that children can be certified as Junior Open Water Divers from as early as 10 years of age? This is according to PADI but bear in mind that children develop at different rates both physically and mentally. If you’re considering scuba diving for your child, you should also consider his or her level of maturity, reasoning skills and physical limitations before you decide.
To date, there is no concrete experimental evidence to prove that scuba diving is dangerous for children. However, remember that scuba diving will expose them to decompression illness and/or dive-related injuries. The risk is always present.
While children and teenagers are welcomed to enroll in scuba classes, not all will be comfortable enough to handle the stress of an underwater environment. If you take a look at PADI’s guide for instructors and parents, under the section “Children In Scuba Diving”, you’ll see a set of questions. If you can answer “yes” to those questions, you’ll have a better idea as to whether your child is ready for scuba diving.
Here are some of the questions asked:
- Does your child want to dive? (Not just the desire of the parents or friends)
- Is your child medically fit to dive?
- Can your child swim? There will be a swimming test that your child must pass
- Can your child remember and apply scuba diving safety rules and principles?
- Can your child read and understand adult-level scuba diving materials?
- Can your child convey any feelings of discomfort or not understanding something?
- Does your child have self-control, can respond to rules and not act impulsively?
- Can your child discuss and understand basic abstract concepts like space and time?
There have been arguments for and against children scuba diving. Some say that the younger a person is, the more comfortable he or she would be in the water. Other points state that scuba-diving parents can take their children along on scuba-diving holidays while encouraging conservation of the natural environment. Medical arguments against children diving include concerns related to equalization issues, Patent Foramen Ovale and the Physiological Effects of Diving.
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