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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 1, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Report: More kids hurt as gadgets distract parents

Texting and driving is just one hazard of the smartphone era.

It’s also hazardous to raise children while you’re using a Web-connected gadget, according to a terrific story in the Wall Street Journal.

The article notes a striking rise in childrens’ injuries that tracks precisely with the rise of smartphone usage since 2007, when the iPhone arrived and web-connected mobile devices became ubiquitous.

It includes terrifying and heartbreaking anecdotes of parents who were tweeting or texting when they should have been focused on parenting.

Parents aren’t necessarily ignoring their children on purpose. Often they don’t realize how distracted they really are when checking messages or otherwise using technology, the article explains.

An excerpt:

Faced with an unending litany of newly proclaimed threats to their kids, harried parents might well roll their eyes at this suggestion. But many emergency-room doctors are worried: They see the growing use of hand-held electronic devices as a plausible explanation for the surprising reversal of a long slide in injury rates for young children. There have even been a few extreme cases of death and near drowning.

There could be other factors and it may be a statistical anomaly, the article notes, but it includes persuasive comments from doctors:

“It’s very well understood within the emergency-medicine community that utilizing devices–hand-held devices–while you are assigned to watch your kids–that resulting injuries could very well be because you are utilizing those tools,” says Dr. Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the emergency center at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.

Not mentioned is the pyschological injury of parents glued to their phones.

Still, it’s one of those newspaper stories that you hope pediatricians tape to the wall of their exam rooms, where parents (without wireless coverage …) are desperate for something to read besides the brochures, germy picture books and the yellowing article about kids needing to watch less TV.

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