Smartphones are undeniably one of the most important innovations in communication, but they're also undeniably a tool that can lead to constant distraction. While kids may be susceptible to the allure of smartphones, what if children aren't the ones abusing their smartphones as much as their parents are?
A new paper suggests that parents are too attached to their smartphones, which draws attention away from their young children. This, in turn, could be leading to more injuries on the playground.
Craig Palsson, a graduate student in the Yale economics department, assembled data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System which is run by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The government doesn't collect this data from people's phones; instead, it uses a sample of emergency room injuries involving consumer products, according to The New York Times.
So how do iPhones cause children injuries? Well, there's a series of events that have taken place, says Palsson:
- More parents bought smartphones — specifically iPhones — because of the expansion of the 3G network.
- Parents were introduced to email and applications on their smartphones.
- Riveted by their new discoveries, parents paid more attention to their devices than they did to their children, especially at playgrounds.
- Of those children, the ones aged 6 and below experienced 10% more accidents between 2005 to 2012, including broken bones and concussions.
Another way to tell that parental smartphone use is connected with the injuries, Palsson says, is the fact that the increase in accidents occurred predominantly in situations that would require parental supervision, like falling down stairs off school property. In comparison, children remained relatively safe at school, which hopefully indicates that teachers are staying off their phones at recess.
While a few bumps and bruises are completely normal for any child, we urge parents to put the phones away. A late response to an email is far better than an emergency room visit. Plus, mindfulness is always advisable, whether you're a parent or not!
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