People: Let’s Be Responsible Models of Cell Phone Use

This is a scene I see all too frequently. This mom is missing opportunities.

Driving slowly into Target’s parking lot, I avoided hitting a 2-year-old child not holding her mother’s hand.  Why was the child free to roam?  The mom was talking on her cell phone.Recently while driving, a car cut right in front of me; I jammed on my brakes to avoid a head-on.  The driver kept right on, never acknowledging me—he was too busy texting.

The National Safety Council’s risk estimate for 2011 utilizing data from the National Traffic Safety Administration was: at least 23 percent of all traffic crashes, (at least 1.3 million crashes) involve cell phone use per year. An estimated 1.2 million crashes involve drivers using cell phones for conversations and at least 100,000 additional crashes can be related to drivers who are texting. 

This information does not begin to include what could have happened in the Target parking lot and probably does.

Another fact for you: firearms kill more than 30,000 people every year in the U.S. In 2007, the latest figure available from the Centers for Disease Control, 31,224 people died from gun injuries.

So are cell phones more lethal than guns?  Maybe.  The cell phone stats are for CRASHES.  We don’t know deaths from that number, but we can assume some deaths and definitely injury, some being severe.  Cell phone use by a train engineer killed 25 people and injured more then 130 near Los Angeles, California. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxq-r3Mzdtg

Cell phones provide convenience and also a means for safety if you break down on the highway while traveling, or though unlikely, feel you may be having a heart attack while behind the wheel—911 is incredibly helpful.

But cell phone use, like drinking alcohol or owning a gun, requires being a responsible person and not everyone is!

This issue bothers me a great deal.  So I Tweet:

DRIVE YOUR CAR, NOT YOUR CELL PHONE.

But there is also a slimy underbelly to the entire cell phone addiction issue, something that won’t necessarily result in death or ER trips.  Like the mom at Target, the ER might have been in her child’s future.  SO WHAT DID THAT MOM DO, when she saw my car?  She reached for her daughter’s hand, pulled her back and continued to walk and talk on her cell phone! Really??  She did not get down and hug her daughter because she was safe.  What’s on the cell phone that is more important than that?

Jennifer Bleyer blogs that she needs her cell phone and that doesn’t make her a bad parent.  She admits to cell phone addiction and doesn’t like getting nasty looks from others when talking on her phone, her child in the stroller just staring out.

Jennifer and other moms like her aren’t going to run someone over with the stroller, but as an old mom, let me ask some questions.

How old is your daughter?  Can she tell you how she feels about being ignored?  How were you parented?  I bet your mother paid strict attention to you when walking in the park.  She probably pointed out birds in the trees and offered you leaves to crinkle or flowers to smell.  Or maybe the cell phone is not the problem at all.  Maybe you didn’t have a good parent model.  But if so don’t let yourself off the hook by believing your daughter is happy being ignored.  There’s so much information out there about parenting.  You know she needs and deserves your full attention on just such occasions.

Or why have kids?  That’s what I’d like to know.  If you’re going to avoid their questions, not hold their hands, and not get down in the grass with them why have them?   Staying connected with your girlfriends on a 24-7 basis is what you do in high school.  Now it’s time to grow up and accept your responsibility.  Your daughter will thank you for it and she might even hang around when you are old and unable to text with your arthritic thumbs!

In the end Jennifer decided to make some changes. I try to limit my phone use when I’m with my daughter, especially if we’re out…Not long ago we went to the zoo, and even though I had to reply to a couple emails while there, she knew her alpacas from her baboons by the time we left. We had chatted up a storm together and were both perfectly happy.

That’s a great start.  I wish her the best and I hope that some day she’ll be able to leave the cell phone at home.   After all addiction can be a lifetime battle.

Thanks to Ed Yourdon Photostream

6 thoughts on “People: Let’s Be Responsible Models of Cell Phone Use

  1. Beth, your words are so wise. And what you miss by staying electronically connected will never be as important as having time to “be” in the presence of your kiddos.
    I learned the hard way, when my youngest was driving and not home at curfew. I called to see where she was, she picked up her phone to assure me she was on her way, seconds later she is in an auto accident. And I was the one preaching don’t talk and drive and I was the one calling her, knowing she was driving. I learned the hard way. I never called her on her cell again when I knew she might be driving.
    I have heard of new fad, Black Hole Resorts, where you can spend a lot of money to not be accesible. Funny thing, there used to be a lot of places like that in our own communities;) Be well, M

  2. Dear Mary,
    Thank you so much for your positive response to this post which is kind of all over the place, but I had some strings of feeling that I wanted to bring together. I am glad your daughter is okay. A fellow blogger lost her son in a car crash on Friday. I don’t know if it involved a cell phone or not. My daughter has written a book about being present to one’s children. I’ll be promoting that when it’s published.

    Let’s meet at one of those Black Hole Resorts!! Beth

  3. Mary, exciting that you are finishing a book. I am rewriting my first novel. That’s truly my real love. Happy Writing, Beth

  4. I so agree with your thoughts on cell phones and driving. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and, with the added distractions of a cell phone, are even more likely to take place. I’m old enough that I can’t understand this practice but the one that truly blows me away is texting while driving. No ifs, ands, or buts about it… that’s insane!

  5. Thanks, Eileen. I totally agree. And I’ll be so honest with you–I can text, but not as quickly as some. I cannot imagine what dangers could lurk if someone like me were texting and wanted to get the text 100% right. They wouldn’t be looking at the road at all, much less have both hands on the wheel. Frightening. Thanks so much for reading Beth

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