You’ve talked with your teens about never texting while driving. But have you considered that teens who text while they’re walking could also be in danger?
Take the case of Laura Safe, a U.K. woman who fell into an icy canal while she texted her boyfriend on the way to a shopping center. Luckily a bystander was able to pull her out of the water quickly and she was alright. Safe says that she saw the water out of the corner of her eye, but because it was dark-colored she thought it was pavement.
This story isn’t the first of its kind to be featured in headlines. Texting people walk off piers, fall into open manholes, and cross the street into oncoming traffic because their eyes are on their phones instead of their surroundings. Sometimes the only thing injured is the victim’s pride; other times they aren’t so lucky and they may be seriously hurt or even killed.
Texting while walking compromises more than just your teen’s vision. Not only are they missing what’s in front of them, but their mind is focused on the conversation they’re having instead of deciphering their environment. They may hear the sounds of the oncoming traffic but not really realize that it means it’s not safe to cross the street. Or like Laura Safe, they might see the water but it doesn’t register until too late.
Every parent should talk to their teens about times when it’s not a good idea to text, and that includes times while they are walking. Prepare for your teen to roll their eyes. They pride themselves on their ability to multitask, and do it so often that they are rarely just doing one thing (like walking.) Teens also think that they are invincible, and they would never do something so stupid as walking into a signpost while texting.
Even though it may not be well-received, have the talk anyway. Repeat it every now and then, especially when you see it in the news. Your teen may never admit it, but when they retreat to their bedroom and have a chance to think about it, they may start to see that you have a good point.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. He is the co-founder of uKnow.com, developers of uKnowKids.