Caution: Indiscriminate texting can be Bad for Your Health
Texting risk #1 – Distracted driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA), texting is one of the leading crash-causing distractions, and 10 percent of all drivers under age 20 involved in deadly car crashes were distracted at the time of the crash.
Statistics show that engaging in “visual-manual subtasks” – texting for instance –creates a 300-percent increase in your risk of getting into a car crash.
So, make sure your kids know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens – it might sober them to the risks of distracted driving.
Texting risk #2 – Distracted walkingWhile you are less likely to harm others if you’re texting while walking (instead of while driving), the same distractive nature of texting can put you at great risk if texting while walking.
According to research from SafeKids.org, 40 percent of teens say they have been hit or nearly hit by a motor vehicle or bicycle while walking, and statistically one teen every hour is struck and either injured or killed by a vehicle on the road, with many of these incidences involving electronic activities, such as texting and listening to music with earphones.
Pedestrian texting risks exist for adults too, but teens are less likely to be cognizant of the inherent risks, as you can see at just about any street intersection in the U.S. – yes, teens often text even while crossing the street, according Safe Kids Worldwide.
To get your teen in a dialogue with you about the dangers of texting while walking, broach the subject by showing them these humorous “Seeing Eye People” videos. Then show them the risk statistics from this article.
Texting risk #3 – Distracted parenting
The 2014 Boston-based study, Patterns of Mobile Device Use by Caregivers and Children During Meals in Fast Food Restaurants, identified and measured parental mobile device distraction by anonymously observing caregivers dining with their young children in fast food restaurants (where 40 percent of American restaurant meals are eaten). What they observed is that mealtime – a historically common time of face-to-face parent-child time of interaction – is being invaded by mobile devices.
The researchers observed that one third of the parents used their mobile device almost continuously during the mealtime, and that interactive phone activities (texting or swiping) further blocked the parent-child disconnect.
Researchers also noted that, at the time parents were most distracted by texting, they were more likely to be verbally or even physically harsh in response to their children's efforts to get the parents' attention.
Much previous research also shows that a lack of eye contact harms that all-important child/parent psychological and emotional bonding. Make sure you are not damaging that parent-child interaction (which is instrumental in a child's cognitive, emotional, and language development) by turning off your cell phone completely during meal times.
Solution – throw away your cell phone?