Pediatric Emergency Department Cautions Tweens And Teens That Texting Distraction May Lead To Injury

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NEWARK—More than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 for injuries sustained from falls that occurred while using a cell phone to call or text.

That was twice the number from 2007, which had doubled from 2006, according to a study by Ohio State University. Now, as more children embrace new technology, emergency department physicians are seeing anecdotal evidence of a rise in pediatric injuries related to texting at inappropriate times, such as while walking, biking or rollerblading.

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“When children attempt to multitask while using a cell phone to text, the result can be injury,” says Michael Rosen, MD, Pediatric Director of the Emergency Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

“There have been cases, such as the 16-year-old teenager who walked into a telephone polls while texting and suffered a concussion, that demonstrate the dangers of this distraction. Any fall can result in facial and eye injuries, broken bones and even death if a young person walks in front of a moving car.”

The Pediatric Emergency Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center offers the following common-sense safety measures for tweens and teens:

•    Do not text or use a cell phone while engaged in any physical activities that require sustained attention; such as walking, biking, boating, rollerblading or even intermittent-contact sports like baseball, football, Frisbee or soccer.

•    Never text or use a hand-held cell phone while driving, motorcycling or biking, and use caution even with headsets.

•    Avoid becoming distracted by rummaging through purses, backpacks or clothing by keeping cell phones in easy-to-find locations, such as phone pouches.

•    Ignore the call or message if it might interfere with concentration during critical activities that require attention. Better yet, turn off the device beforehand when incoming calls or messages might prove to be a dangerous or an annoying interference.

•    Be mindful of the distraction that texting can cause, and do not text in any environments in which inattention can cause safety concerns, such as while sitting alone at night, waiting for a bus, in a crowded area, or in a place where you could become a victim of a personal attack or theft.

“It is important to be aware of potential safety concerns and to exercise caution, restraint and good judgment at all times when using a cell phone,” said Dr. Rosen.”


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