PORTLAND, Ore. --- Mobile devices are a way of life for many of us, and they offer great efficiencies and convenience in communication. But they can also be a distraction to parents, and that has some emergency room doctors concerned.
Those doctors are seeing an increase in injuries to young children and looking at parents’ cell phones or other mobile devices as the reason why - because parents aren't paying close enough attention to their kids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 12-percent increase in unintended injuries to children five-years old and under form 2007 to 2012. The injuries are reported by emergency room departments across the country.
Rahul Rastogi, M.D. is an ER Doctor with Kaiser-Permanente in the Portland area. He said he's seen no other change as great as the increased use of mobile technology, in creating distractions for parents.
“You look at the way phones are designed right now and they are meant to grab your attention and they suck you right in,” said Rastogi.
Stay-at-home mom Jackie Andersen can relate to the distraction factor. She is the mother of nearly 4-year old Payton, and 8-month old Max. She has her hands full, and she admits, sometimes her smart phone is a distraction.
“I kind of find myself almost doing that, and I’m not really listening. So it’s those times when I need to put it down,” said Andersen.
Rastogi said one of the places you see parents texting or otherwise using their devices is at the playground. He says that’s a recipe for problems.
“That cell phone needs to have that time and place separate from your children, especially when your maximal attention is necessary, when you’re out and about with them,” warned Rastogi.
Jackie agreed, and said she is working to put her smart phone aside while she is busy caring for her young children. But when she gets downtime, the smart phone allows her a chance to connect with friends and family.
“It’s almost like having that adult time even though no one’s here," she said. "I can see what my friends are up to… it does give me a little bit of a break.”