Your iPhone may lead to serious head injuries in your child. A new study points to increasing concussions and broken bones in young children and one of the main culprits may be parental use of smartphones.
Craig Palsson, an economics graduate student at Yale University, hypothesized in a research paper that smartphones “lead parents to make decisions that increase the risk of child injury.”
Palsson suggested that two effects of smartphone use, in particular, lead to distracted parenting. First, the entertainment value of the phones brings video, music, texting and games directly to parents around the clock. “In contrast to television and computers, smartphones are portable, allowing parents to use them at any time in almost any activity.” So instead of supervising and warning kids of risky behavior, parents are playing on their phones.
Second, smartphones allow for business applications outside of the office, which can provide parents more time at home with their kids. “For example, a [parent] might not need to be in the office because [they] can email from the zoo,” said Palsson. “If parents and children participate more in activities that are risky, then mechanically the number of injuries will increase.”
Palsson analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which found a 10 percent increase in injuries to children aged 5 and under. These injuries, which included broken bones and concussions, coincided with the rollout of the iPhone 3G and the AT&T 3G network, which provided far expanded data speeds than were previously available to the public.
However, said Palsson, “only 6.4 out of every 1,000 parents of children 5 and under who use a smartphone experience an injury. To put this number in perspective, the injury rate for cars is about 10.6 per 1,000 drivers.”
That doesn’t mean parents can relax until they reach the damaging effects of texting and driving. “The conclusion of this [research] is not that we should implement drastic measures or legislation to reduce injuries,” said Palsson. But at the very least, there should be “public awareness campaigns reduce the chance of [childhood] injury.”