Study Warns Risk of Texting While Walking

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  • An increasing number of individuals get hurt as a result of smartphone use
  • Most of these incident were linked to distracted behavior when people text or call while walking or driving
  • Researchers saw a spike in these incidents following the release of the iPhone

The advent of smartphones has changed the way people live and communicate, but findings of a new research highlight the potential dangers of these devices. In a new study, which was published on Thursday, Dec. 5, a team of researchers revealed an increasing number of head and neck injuries linked to smartphone use.

 

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Boris Paskhover, from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and colleagues looked at 20 years of emergency room data and found an increasing number of individuals who were hurt as a result of using their phones. The spike started around 2007, the year when Apple released its first iPhone, and the number of similar incidents continued to increase.

Between 1998 and 2017, 2,501 Americans sustained head and neck injuries while using their phones, and about 40 percent of these were in people between 13 and 29 years old. The researchers, however, think that the reported number is far lower than the actual number. 

“I think it’s severely underreported,” Paskhover said

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Some of the incidents were caused by the devices themselves such as when people drop their phone on their face, or they throw their device onto somebody else. Most of these, however, are linked to distracted use, which happens when people trip on the sidewalk because they were texting or calling while walking. Ninety of these cases happened because people were distracted while playing Pokémon Go. 

As people become increasingly dependent on their smartphones, the researchers said that the findings highlight a need for educating people about the risks of using phones while doing other activities such as driving and walking.

“This study’s findings suggest that growing dependence on cell phones in modern life may require that steps be taken to educate and promote safe practices for using these devices,” the researchers wrote in their study.

The study was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.