It's not the child's age that matters...
Dr. Carol W - OW / Physician
January 3, 2008 at 17:50:07
I read the article which seemed to imply the United States is allowing children down to age 10 to be certified only to "grow the scuba industry." I think that children vary in their developmental readiness to start diving. I allowed my youngest to learn to dive when he was 11. When he became 12, he got Nitrox certified. Of the whole family, he is the most careful of his equipment and likes to make sure that everyone has a dive plan and stays safe. I take insulin, so if he is my dive buddy, he always double checks to make sure that I have done all of the finger sticks before and after I go down. When he does the buddy equipment checks, he looks in my zipper pockets to make sure that I have glucose tubes in my BC.
At the same time, as a parent, I have certain responsibilities too. I have never had a diabetic problem underwater, but I would not want him to have to handle it alone. If he is my dive buddy, I make sure that my husband and one of Adam's older siblings are also within visual range.
Recently, we went to an "easy" shore dive site. Some people coming out assured us that the surf was less challenging than it looked. (crazy people) After venturing a short way into the waves, Adam and his brother decided to abort the dive. After talking to others who tried the same location, I think that the decision to abort the dive was right.
It is not the age that matters, it is the developmental level of the particular kid. Parents who allow their children to get scuba certified should do so because the kid is ready, not just so the whole family can go on a dive vacation. If one child (not always the youngest) is not ready to dive, arrange alternative activities for that person. Also, some dive instructors are better at educating kids than others.