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Is my smartphone making me dumb about safety?

While we have been making tremendous strides in decreasing childhood injuries over the last twenty years there is a disturbing trend as reported by the Wall Street Journal last week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of injuries to children under five decreased 8% between 2001 and 2007, but has climbed 14% since then.

An article last month in The Wall Street Journal reported that a growing number of child-health experts and law-enforcement officials believe the increase in injuries since 2007 may be due in part to parents who are distracted by mobile devices like smartphones and not adequately supervising their children.

Are smartphones making us dumb about safety?

Even as “safety mom,” I have to look at my own habits.  I have a toddler at home but at times I feel so attached to my phone…checking Facebook, the news or my e-mail. And I have an old school smartphone will fewer features than most.

I’m quickly reminded by my husband, who has threatened to upgrade my smartphone to a prehistoric phone and just a phone, that I am frequently distracted when I should be paying more attention to Mary. After all, she is a toddler with no fear.

For the last twenty years parents have installed baby gates, used car seats, and paid attention to what the experts said about safety.  Now, the new threat is simple distraction. Instead of adding new technologies to keep our kids safe – technology is decreasing safety.

I’m as guilty as anyone.  How do we detach?

To solve many of the safety challenges – using car seats, helmets, wearing knee pads, etc. we’ve had to be deliberate. We’ve had to make an effort to use these products. The challenge now is to deliberately detach from our smart phones…

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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