Alternative Mobile Dangers
Words by Tony Talbot
Don't get me wrong I am into tech as much as the next man and I am fully aware of the societal benefits that mobile phone technology has brought us. However. . . . . . .!
Most of us are committed to the smartphone lifestyle, meaning we can’t help but reach for the phone in our pocket when we get a text or an email. While mobile phones have made our lives easier in many ways and connected us more than ever before, there are many risks involved in being so addicted to the small screen. Addiction is not too strong a word as I find myself becoming more and more dependent, not only for the obvious daily phone calls and occasional photograph; my mobile phone has become the entertainment centre of my world to such an extent that I get quite depressed without my minute by minute "fix." Who'd have thought?
I was shopping in a very busy Leeds City Centre back in February of 2020 and having shopped decided to have a coffee and take the weight of my feet whilst trying to put to the back of my mind how much money I had spent.
I sat at the large window with my regular Cappuccino savouring the relative peace of my surroundings whilst enjoying the spectacle and colour of hundreds of impatient, unsmiling, rushing lunchtime pedestrians against the backdrop of slow-moving, grey main-road traffic outside. The light rain had stopped adding weight to the numbers of people on the pavements as those unprepared for the earlier downpour emerged from their temporary shelter.
Young mum and toddler
I noticed the young woman and pushchair from quite a distance away as she crossed the road at the pelican lights at the top of the road. In retrospect, I guess she stood out from the crowd as despite the cold weather and whilst she had a coat on albeit not an overly substantial garment, the toddler in her 'care' appeared to have no more than a jumper with his or her tiny feet having one sock on and one-off, however, I could not be sure as the distance between us was too great. Despite the farness, there was no mistaking the fact the child was crying with the mother oblivious to the child’s unhappiness and everything else around her as she continued down the road towards me and the coffee shop. With her mobile phone still glued to her ear, she didn’t notice the lamppost in front of her in the same way she hadn’t realised that her offspring had jettisoned a sock. She was totally lost in the selfishness of her phone call even as the buggy collided with the post adjacent to the kerbside with such force that the child was catapulted at an oblique angle into the road just as they got level with the coffee shop.
Several of us having seen the incident motioned to rush out to help but having noticed assistance arriving from people closer to the event we sat down again, continuing to watch and hoping that all was not too serious. One of the helpers who came in for a coffee a little later told us that despite a couple of scratches and a bruise, the infant was OK. We then got into a full-blown discussion about parenting and mobile phone use in general and the negative effects the technology is having on us as Homo Sapiens.
Thousands of UK injuries
I have to be honest and mention that the kiddie in the pram event upset me a little, things like that do. Having done a little research spurred on by the Manchester shopping incident, it was interesting to discover just how many accidents occur as a result of mobile phone distraction. Injuries sustained from falling over or bumping into things while using a mobile phone are on the rise; in the UK at least 2,400 pedestrians were reported (and I am presupposing many were not) to have visited a hospital in 2019 as a result of these “self – inflected kind of accidents some of which resulted in serious injury.
What about our mental state.
However, the downside of addictive mobile telephone use is not all about the physical dangers that can result. I am sure that many of you have seen similar situations where parents, whether listening and talking or texting or playing games on their mobile phones, do so at the expense of time that should probably be afforded to younger children in particular during their most formative years. I cannot believe the number of times I have seen a youngster totally ignored whilst trying to interact with a father who is more concerned about his texting conversation.
Ignoring the kids.
I have read numerous parent studies recently regarding their use of technology and in particular mobile phones and how they can negatively impact on their children’s behaviours. It seems obvious to me that if you consistently ignore a young child around the age of 2 or 3 years of age then as a result you are probably going to see problems further down the line. So it was unsurprising that in a couple of particular studies parents that admitted to regular incidents of ignoring their kids in favour of technology usage (computers, phones etc) saw their offspring develop into older children prone to restless sleeping habits, moaning and in particular temper tantrums.
Will we change?
So, unless a large proportion of us change our attitude as parents we will invariably produce generations of whining, bad-tempered insomniacs with psychotic tendencies, continually walking into bus shelters, lampposts and other immovable objects you find on regular footpaths. It doesn’t paint a very positive picture, does it? Then there are the physical problems associated with overuse or improper use of mobile phones that our kids, unless they change their ways, will experience in their teens, early twenties and unfortunately mid-life when it will really impact.
I doubt you have heard the expression “Dowager’s hump before but it is an advanced form of osteoporosis that results in a bent-over position. In severe cases, the individual is so bent over that their face is facing the ground. The condition got its name because of the frequency with which older women used to develop this condition in times gone by.
The growing number of instances relative to Dowager’s hump that exist among young people today is a result of bad posture and in particular bad posture from overuse of mobile phone and desktop or laptop equipment. Injuries are not just specific to the upper spine and lower neck regions. A recent study with a large focus group found that 84 per cent of 18 to 24-year olds were already experiencing significant lower back pain.
There is more. Did you know that when we text and interact with other social media applications on our mobiles, initially we stop blinking and if you stop blinking on regular occasions you do most definitely end up with dry eyes and eye strain? Also, we have created a generation that has more hand, thumb and finger problems than ever before resulting in repetitive strain injuries and quite a few incidences of what has become known amongst medical practitioners as "Claw Hand Syndrome." Hey, but as long as it keeps them quiet, eh? Good luck with buying the kids gloves next winter.
Significant food for thought dear reader, very significant.