Teens Texting While Walking is No Joke
In the blink of an eye and with a few movements with a finger, our thoughts, ideas and experiences are transported and broadcast to anyone anywhere on the planet. While this is no small feat, we somehow trivialize how significant this action is as we hardly ever grow tired from using our smartphones and tablets. Although using the Internet on a mobile wireless device is not physically demanding, it does require full focus of our attention in order to take in or share whatever media it is that we are engaging online.
Smartphones, tablets and the Internet age have revolutionized the way we live our lives, the way we educate ourselves, and gives us the ability to be aware of things that have no physical proximity to us at all. Anyone who has spent any considerable amount of time engaging any electronic device can relate to the hypnotic feeling that comes from looking away from the device and finding that an hour has gone by and we have no idea what has been going on with those within a close proximity. Plenty of time is spent with smartphones and tablets casually browsing the Internet, watching videos, playing games, sending text messages, and of course, talking on the phone – with video, that is.
Online distractions are something that the older generations did not grow up with. This makes it seem at times that those with more age are clumsier and less-adept at multi-tasking than their youngsters. While this might apply in a large number of homes as children gain quality experience with computers and Internet-enabled devices in their formative years, many times parents and older folks are choosing not to immerse themselves in online activities at certain times because they know what could happen if they fail to notice what is going on with the world around them.
We see children with their own smartphone or tablet in public more and more often while they are still in diapers. Multi-touchscreen technology and small super-fast processors make it possible to digitally create and re-create virtually anything that can be imagined in the mind with the assistance of a device that is smaller than many remote controls that we grew up with as children. A child that is bored or rambunctious at the store or out in public with Mom or Dad will quickly quiet down when given a smartphone with bells, whistles and interactive cartoons to keep their attention.
Instead of paying attention to the world around them, more teens are becoming content with taking a back seat in life without noticing where they are at, where they are going or what kinds of things to look out for to ensure their own safety. This can not only develop a psychological dependence on technology, but it also hinders the development of key skills such as navigation, patience, listening and being aware of what is going on around us. There are sets of life skills that we are supposed to acquire before we become adults, but these skills are not just given overnight or at a certain age, they come from a culmination of experience and guidance from the choices they make from the entirety of their life.
Which brings us to the dangers of texting while walking. When we think of dangerous activities, we usually think of high speeds or heavy machinery that we operate and which requires our complete attention. Something as tiny as a smartphone that fits in any environment gives us a false sense of safety when it comes to considering how dangerous writing a text or reading an email can be. But reading and writing are both activities that require complete focus and should not be combined with activities associated with traveling anywhere.
Smartphones and tablets go anywhere and do many different things. While working out or out and about, we often play music to keep us occupied. At the same time, we are able to squish the equivalent of a desk and filing cabinet into the palm of our hands, giving us the ability to communicate and research with the entire world in a fraction of a second. What takes so much time and focus is the actions of putting together sentences on squirrelly keyboards or reading and browsing through information to find some sort of mental morsel to digest.
When driving, biking, skating, snowboarding or even walking, our minds are performing incredible feats of nature when we are able to move from one place to another without colliding into something and causing damage to ourselves or others. We are so used to everything working properly that we tend to minimize the importance of actually paying attention to what is going on. In the past several years as smartphones have become more prevalent, emergency rooms everywhere are indicating that more pedestrians are becoming injured as a result of texting while walking.
While it might be sadistically humorous to watch someone obliviously walk into a wall or a pole, or step off into a sewer drain whilst unaware, these things are happening more often and do cause substantial injuries to those who thought they were “smarter than that.” The fact of the matter is, our bodies are not designed to take in or create literature while in motion, and smartphone devices are not designed to be used while driving, biking or walking either. Someone walking down the sidewalk with their gaze focused on their phone can easily slip into oncoming traffic or become the focal point of a robber’s gaze or worse. There is no need to wait for rules that ban texting while walking. If we all take a second to think a few seconds into the future, it will make sense to hold the phone until you can get somewhere that you can stop.