Cell Phone Distractions Can Lead You Places You Don’t Want to Go
The first cell phone was created in the 1970’s and sold for thousands of dollars. Needless to say, very few could afford them.
Today, according to recent statistics, there are more than 327.5 million cell phones in the United States. That number exceeds our population and collectively, Americans check their phones upwards of 8 BILLION times per day. When polled, carriers age 18 – 24 said they check their phones an average of more than 70 times per day and admitted that is the first thing they do when they first wake up.
Of course, cell phone users don’t just use their phones for calls. They can talk, text, take pictures and record video. Facebook users can now post live feeds. Did you know that there is even an app that will calculate whether you are obsessed with checking your phone? Yes, there really is an app for that. Currently there are over 2 million apps that range from checking the weather or news, getting driving directions, depositing a check into the bank, tracking calories or playing games.
The newest craze (as I’m sure you’ve heard by now) is Pokémon Go. Just weeks after its release, an estimated 9.5 million cell phone users are playing daily. This game has overtaken popularity of Pandora, Twitter, Netflix and other popular apps. While it is positive that the game requires you to get outside and go for a walk and may people have reported positive results from their newfound activity, players are urged to proceed with caution.
Almost immediately after the game was released, reports began streaming in of Pokémon-related injuries. Injuries are ranging from minor scrapes, twisted ankles, broken bones and motor vehicle “mishaps”. One player stated they slipped and fell into a ditch, breaking bones which will require up to 8 weeks for recovery. A prestigious medical school felt compelled to send an email out to the entire student body reminding them to “look up from their phone to avoid tripping or running into something.” Other players were critically injured after they fell off a 50-foot cliff attempting to chase Pokémon.
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician, Dr. Sebrina Perkins states “Prevention is the key. With any activity that a child participates in, even into their teens, parental involvement and guidelines need to be set. With this new game, some of the guidelines could be limitations as to how long a child participates, making sure they never venture out alone while playing and being aware of their surroundings to avoid injury.”
Another issue with map-based games like Pokémon Go is trespassing. Homeowners are reporting to police, concerned with strangers roaming their neighborhoods, and in some cases, even entering their yards to try and catch Pokémon. Not respecting people’s property can cause homeowners to become very nervous and can result in devastating consequences. Daily we are hearing news reports of homeowners wanting to take action to keep players out of their neighborhoods.
But homeowners are not the only ones to report players being where they shouldn’t be. Players are traveling to cemeteries and restricted areas and if they do not heed warnings, they could be ticketed, fined or arrested. Military bases have issued warnings to the public to not enter controlled or restricted areas on base.
The game was created to get people outside walking, talking to each other, meeting up and having fun – all of which are healthy and noble goals. Let’s just be sure to keep each other’s safety in mind when trying to achieve them.
It is a positive thing to be active and it is up to the players to take the appropriate steps to ensure their safety. Here are some basic steps to stay safe while playing games like Pokémon Go:
- Look up from your phone often – use the map as a reference and do not walk while interacting with the game
- Don’t venture out alone; use a buddy system so you can look out for one another
- Heed traffic rules when it comes to crosswalks and intersections
- Be cautious in parking lots or garages
- Be aware of warning signs, private property and do not trespass
- Respect curfew hours if your city mandates them
- Do not play the game while driving; no exceptions