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The Hazards of Texting While Parenting

Many parents don’t think twice about using their smartphones while they are home with their children, or at a park, restaurant or sporting event. Whether they are texting, tweeting or e-mailing, the potentially negative effects that this activity may have on language development, social interaction and emotional bonding of their children have been raised by social psychologists in the past decade. Even more concerning now is the potential for physical injury to young children as a result of parental distraction described in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

The issue is whether these high tech devices can reduce the ability of adults to safely and effectively supervise toddlers and young children. It turns out that emergency departments have being seeing an increased number of  injuries noted in young children.  It is possible that the increasing use of such technology may be partly responsible for the recent uptick in traumatic injuries noted in toddlers and children, which had previously been consistently declining over the past decade. Near drownings and deaths have occurred in swimming pools and also with children wandering into traffic or falling off playground ladders and other gymnastic equipment.

There are no formal studies or other published data at this time to firmly establish any relationship between distraction by digital devices and the recent increase noted in nonfatal injuries under the age of five based on data from the CDC from 2007-2010. However, the number of smartphones owned by people aged 13 and older went from 9 million in 2007 to over 63 million in 2010, then up to 114 million in 2012. At this time, it can only represent an association, but may not be the only cause attributable to the increased injury rates observed.

What we do know is that using a smart phone while driving or walking does increase the risk for injury. It is certainly possible that the devices may be contributing to the increase observed in toddlers and young children as more parents juggle and multitask throughout their busy days. Other potential explanations offered for the increase in rates of childhood injury may include children engaging in more dangerous or riskier activities…

Read more: Robert Glatter MD, Forbes

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