iPods and Walking: A Dangerous Mix for Teens

Teens who are plugged in — and not paying attention — are more vulnerable to being hit by cars. 

Posted: 10/25/2012 10:47 PM EDT
iPods and Walking: A Dangerous Mix For Teens

When it comes to being online and accessing media, African-American teens have that on lock.

A 2011 Northwestern University report (pdf) found that on average Black youth spend 12 hours and 59 minutes plugged in — either in front of the television, online, on a mobile device or playing video games.

That’s four hours more than their white counterparts.

African-Americans in general are more likely to access the mobile Internet than other races, according to a 2011 Pew Internet study.

And while consuming this much media can widen the waistline, lower self-esteem and worsen ou hearing and eyesight, new data released at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in New Orleans states that it can increase one’s risk for serious physical harm.

Researchers from the New York University Langone Medical Center found that teenagers — ages 13 to 17 — walking on the streets with an MP3 player or texting on other electronic devices were more likely to get struck by a car than those who were not plugged in. By analyzing data of 1,100 patients from 2008 to 2011, of all the pedestrians struck by cars who accessed care at their ER, they found that 13 percent were under the age of 18 and teens were twice as likely (18 percent) to have an electronic device compared to adults (9 percent).

Health Day reported that media devices weren’t the only cause for these accidents:

— Children were often injured when they were unsupervised, when they crossed mid-block or when they darted into the street.

— In some cases, multiple factors played a role.

— Although alcohol use was a factor in 15 percent of adult pedestrian injuries, it was not common among teens. Just 4 percent of teen injuries involved alcohol.


Researchers found that, at most, teens were treated for minor injuries such as scrapes and road rash and didn’t require treatment at a hospital. The most severe were head injuries, but that was rare. 

"Mobile phones and music listening devices are wonderful inventions," David Schwebel, a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and expert on teen mobile use and safety, told HealthDay. "But children need to learn when it is appropriate to use their phones and when they should not. Sitting on a park bench is an appropriate place and time to use a phone; crossing a street is not."

 

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(Photo: Granger Wootz / Getty Images)

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