As the parent of a 16 month old, I know the temptation smartphones yield.  Sometimes they seem like the only connection to other adults and to the real world that we have.

I always try to limit my phone time because I don’t ever want my little girl to think that some silly device is more important than she is.  But my daughter is now at an age where she sometimes likes to play independently, and is content just knowing I’m in the room.  What better time to text, play games, or whatever…right?


While I admit that I am guilty of it sometimes, I believe I will change my ways even more after learning this information:

Injury rates in children, which have dropped steadily since the 1970’s, are on the rise again.  Injuries rose 12% in children under 5 between 2007 and 2010.  Interestingly, during that time we also saw the greatest rise in smartphone use.  While there haven’t been any official studies done to confirm the link between injuries and smartphones, emergency room staff and first responders are noting a connection.

There have been a couple of tragic stories where Facebook and Twitter updates have been documented moments before a 911 call is placed, reporting a drowning or other accident.  And less tragic yet still serious, are the number of playground accidents that happen while parents or babysitters are focusing on their phones rather than their children.

People tend to think they are able to multitask when they are on their phones, but studies show that they may actually be more distracted that when they are watching television or reading.  The brain processes information differently when focused on a smartphone, where it may notice something but not take it in enough to react.

Many accidents are averted by anticipatory action by parents…we see our kids climbing too high, getting too wild, or coming to close to the edge, and we step in.  However, parents on their smartphones notice less and react slower, often allowing the impending accident to happen.

More serious, are the stories we hear about parents letting go of their kids’ hands while crossing busy streets, just to check a text.  Or being so focused on Facebook that they didn’t notice their child fall and hit their head.  And, of course, kids near water always need our full attention.  No update or upload is ever more important that actively paying attention to your child near a lake or pool.

Please take this seriously.  It’s one thing if your child simply stumbles or falls while you’re texting, but how would you feel if your child was seriously injured or lost because you had to update your status?  Hopefully parents, siblings, and nannies will realize their limitations and priorities, put their smartphones away, and just play with their little ones! (Photo credit here)

(The statistics in this story were found in an update from Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and in The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2012 edition)

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