- Number of children admitted to hospital after playground falls has risen by a third in five years
- Experts blame the sharp rise on parents being distracted by text messages and emails
- Children also more inclined to take risks or misbehave when they know their parents’ attention is diverted
19:02 EST, 22 November 2012
03:40 EST, 23 November 2012
Children are having more accidents in playgrounds because their parents are too busy checking their smartphones to look after them properly (picture posed by model)
Children are having more accidents because their parents are too busy checking their mobile phones to supervise them properly, researchers warn.
They blame a sharp rise in playground falls and mishaps in the home on their mothers or fathers being distracted by text messages and emails.
The number of children being admitted to hospital having fallen from playground equipment has risen by a third in the last five years, according to NHS data.
Parenting experts and doctors specialising in emergency departments believe the rise is partly fuelled by the growing use of smartphones and BlackBerries.
They also point out children are more inclined to take risks or misbehave when they know their parents’ attention is diverted.
Figures from the NHS show that last year some 9,564 children were admitted to hospital having fallen from playground equipment, up from 7,232 in 2006/7.
Researchers point out that this rise coincided with the increasing availability of BlackBerrys and smartphones, such as Apple’s iPhone, which went on the market five years ago.
June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, which runs nurseries in the capital said: ‘We are all guilty of being distracted by our phones. As a society, we need to start setting parameters about when it is and is not appropriate to use them.
The number of children being admitted to hospital having fallen from playground equipment has risen by a third in the last five years, according to NHS data (file picture)
‘It is a balancing act. But parents need to be aware when their phones are having too much power over their lives and try to put them away when they are spending time with their children.
‘Children crave attention and if they are not getting it from their mums and dads, they will sometimes do dangerous things to grab it.’
Dr Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the emergency department at the University of California Los Angeles medical centre, said: ‘It’s very well understood within the emergency-medicine community that utilising devices – hand-held devices – while you are assigned to watch your kids -that resulting injuries could very well be because you are utilising those tools.’
The NHS does not have figures for the total number of injuries involving children.
But figures from the US show they rose by 12 per cent in the last five years having been falling for the last decade.
Professor David Schwebel, an expert in psychology at the University of Alabama, said: ‘Young children have a natural risk to hurt themselves if they are not properly watched by an adult.
‘If the adult is distracted, clearly the risk is increased. We know that drivers and pedestrians are distracted and more at risk when they use devices. It’s a fairly small leap to suggest that supervisors are distracted.’
Sheila Merrill, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: ‘Supervision is central to ensuring that young children are not exposed to significant risk in the home, on the road or while out playing.
‘Distractions come in many forms, of course, but with the apparent rise in smartphone use, it’s important to remind parents and carers that texting, calling and surfing the net at inappropriate times can put their child at unnecessary risk of being hurt in an accident.’
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At a time when cutbacks are all the news and money is tight how can so many young, and not so young people, afford the luxury of mobile phones. Many generations of us have survived and prospered without the need of either of these luxuries
- Scotty , Cambridge, 23/11/2012 11:56Actually, mobile phones are no longer a luxury but a necessity for most people. Certainly it’s incredibly difficult to get a job without a mobile and Internet access. The world has changed. That doesn’t excuse ignoring one’s children but you need to wake up.
When I was a child I had stitches in both knees, my forehead and many many sprained ankles. Did this ruin my childhood? NOOOO, it kind of made my childhood. Had I not have been climbing trees, riding bikes, playing at the park and such I wouldn’t have injured myself, however I also would have had a very dull childhood. Stop wrapping kids up in cotton wool and let them play. If they fall over they can pick themselves up and dust themsleves off as we did and as did the generations before us. My 5 year old daughter can climb a tree like a rat up a drain pipe and I see no reason to stop her. Also, Mums may be on smartphones now, but when we were kids our parents stood chatting while we played. It’s just a different way to communicate!!!
I don’t understand why people update statues saying checking in at AE or the emergency doctors with their children, surel their 1st priority is their child not informing their 500+ so called friends!
- Miss G, Northwest, 23/11/2012 10:54
HELP!!! HELP!!! At 12.05hrs 13 readers have given the above comment the thumbs-up….but I have no idea what it’s about! It’s drivel, isn’t it? Isn’t it??? Or am I simply unable to get down ‘low’ enough to understand?
Len Clean-Air System
Ah shush, we all had accidents in the playground, it’s part of life
North Of Ireland,
I’ve seen so many near misses when parents are paying no attention at all. Everyone seems to be constantly on their phones, it really irritates me. I also hate people steering buggies along busy roads with one hand or their elbows because they’re trying to type. Poor kids
South West, United Kingdom,
At a time when cutbacks are all the news and money is tight how can so many young, and not so young people, afford the luxury of mobile phones. Some families are now paying out for 4 or 5 as it is now common for schoolchildren to have their own phone. Then there is the cost of the second car which spends most of the day parked in the driveway between school runs. It has long been a fact that in most instances it is cheaper to travel by taxi than to own a second car.
Many generations of us have survived and prospered without the need of either of these luxuries, for that is what they are, certainly not life’s essentials.
Parents or Teachers????
I don’t understand the obsession with phones etc. How did humans manage prior to these inventions? When my kids were little, the time i spent with them, i concentrated on them! Talking to them about different things about things that we saw as we walked along, teaching them skills, particularly social skills. After all, this is what a parent is supposed to do i assume, or did i get it wrong? I recently replaced my 12 year old mobile, simply because it broke. I replaced it with a 10 pound one. It has no camera or internet access etc, the same as my old one didn’t. I don’t need those things. If i want to take a picture, i will use my camera, if i want to access the internet i will do so at home. My phone only leaves my house with me if i am going a long distance away from home alone. People who are glued to their phones come across as self obsessed idiots to me.
UK, United Kingdom,
When I am out and about the lack of awareness of mobile phone users is often frightening as they seem unaware of the world around them. They walk into you, seem blissfully unaware of their children’s actions or even traffic. The same applies in shops.
Doesn’t surprise me! The only time I take my phone out while my kids are playing is when I’m using it for the camera!
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