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Distracted Parenting? Now What?!

I’m sorry did you say something?? Probably insult enough right? Well now we can add injury to that list also.  It’s called ‘Distracted Parenting’ and it has been a hot topic lately. Some experts are linking the rise in smartphone ownership with a spike in emergency room visits for kids under 5.

One thing research has shown is that smartphone users’ interpretation of how long they’re staring at their phones instead of their kids is grossly underestimated. It might feel like 20 seconds, but really three minutes have passed — long enough for younger kids to get into trouble and for older kids to feel neglected.

For example, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that emergency rooms are reporting a recent increase in nonfatal child injuries.  In fact, there has been a 12% increase of nonfatal injuries in children under the age of five based on data from the CDC from 2007-2010.  The distractions from cell phones have been blamed for many a toddler’s injury on the playground, at the pool and even at home.  Near drownings have been reported when caretakers took their eyes off their young charges.  In one case, a toddler sank in the deep end of the pool when his nanny just took her eyes off him for what she reported as being “20 seconds.”  In fact, security cameras showed that she was busy with her phone and hadn’t looked up for three minutes!

And then, there’s the disappointment element I have seen on many a child’s face when she looks over to the sidelines during her soccer game, or at the beach or following a rehearsal and shouts, “Mommy…did you see that?” only to have her mom look up from her phone with a sheepish look on her face.  Even her mother’s earnest encouragement to, “Do it again and I’ll watch this time,” doesn’t take away the initial hurt.

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