Many parents spend time on their smartphones liking something on a friend's Facebook page, playing Candy Crush, or checking their emails — but parents who have trouble putting their phones down can miss a split second event that might result in an accident for their children.
According to Nicole Morley of the UK's Metro, new research has found that roughly one-fourth of parents had been so involved in their devices that their kids have had an accident or encountered a near miss.
The study, conducted by the Child Accident Prevention Trust, also found that children were doing the same thing. Fifteen percent of kids have been so absorbed in their cell phones that they have stepped out in front of oncoming traffic or have had other such barely avoided accidents.
Recently published information found that two-thirds of Britons own a smartphone, and one in three are viewing their devices within five minutes of getting out of bed.
Dr. Rahul Chodarhi of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, the author of the study, said:
"Accidents often happen when we're distracted and mobile phones are increasingly to blame – whether it's a teenager stepping out into traffic while instant messaging or a baby grabbing at a hot drink or biting into a liquitab while their parent is replying to a text."
"It only takes a split second for an accident to happen so I urge parents and young people to adapt their behaviour."
The scientists studied 1,000 parents of young children, and their findings are now pushing them to urge families to turn off their devices to keep their children safer.
The younger the mother or father, the more likely they are to be encumbered by their phones. About 85% of parents under 35 make checking for updates on their devices a priority, and two-fifths acknowledge that their young one has had a near miss or an outright accident while they were preoccupied with their phones.
The study's results were released on June 6 at the start of Britain's Children Safety Week. The report said that parents are often on their phones when they are walking on the street with their children, and this causes some of the biggest problems, informs Tristan Cork, writing for the Bristol Post.
Parents in the UK, according to the study, spend almost two hours every day on their digital devices. Roughly three-quarters of drivers say they see pedestrians using devices while stepping into the street without looking.
In a publication by the American Academy of Pediatrics released in May 2016, doctors acknowledged that today's parents are constantly connected and often find it difficult to separate from their hand-held devices. But scientists point out the danger of developmental delays for kids whose parents are distracted by their smartphones and tablets.
Moms and dads spend an inordinate amount of time making sure their children have their physical checkups, eat healthy food, receive all their required vaccinations, and get the rest they need. But these same parents may not know that smartphone addiction can affect their children's communication and social development.
The AAP tells mother and fathers to get off the smartphone and play word games, read books, let children see their facial expressions, let kids know they are being listened to by family members.
The scientists add that in the first three years of their lives, 80% of children's brain development takes place. So for learning and speech and language development, parents need to put down the phone and interact with their young ones. Being present is the only way children get their communication and social development abilities. And being connected to a child might also save that child's life.