Recently, I’ve been involved in a number of conversations with other instructors and interested parties about dive training for children. It’s clear from these conversations that there’s a significant mixed bag of opinions. While all dive industry professionals want to see the dive community expand, the question of when to start training children is a matter of concern.
Right now, all of the major dive certification agencies allow their instructors to train and certify children once they are 10 years old, but this was not always the case. In the early days of recreational diving, a prospective diver had to be 18 years old in order to become certified. Later, with improved equipment and industry experience, the certification age was lowered to 15. These junior diver programs at first established that children between the ages of 12 and 14 could be trained as divers, but could only dive under direct supervision of a parent, guardian or a dive professional and with specific limitations. The rationale for this lowering of age requirements is in itself a matter of dispute in the dive community. Some believe it was to make diving more of a family activity. Others believe it was, and is, purely a means to expand the market and stimulate business. Whatever the reason, the question remains how young is too young for a child to begin training as a diver.
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