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More parents on iPhones means more kids with broken bones

Between 2005 and 2012, there was an 10 percent uptick childhood accidents as a result of distracted parenting.

By Brooks Hays
More parents on iPhones means more kids with broken bones
A woman uses her smartphone. (UPI/Shutterstock/Skylines)

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The expansion of cellular coverage and the growing availability of more capable and affordable smartphones may be good consumers, but it's bad news for the structural integrity of children's bones.

That's according to Craig Palsson, a graduate student in the Yale economics, who -- using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a program of the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- attempted to connect the dots between cellphone use and playground accidents.

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With each new cell tower, Palsson argues, more and more parents adopt mobile technology. In turn, more parents find themselves checking email instead of watching Suzy on the swings or Max on the merry-go-round. In other words, iPhone sales don't just benefit Apple's bottom line, they help pad the pockets of orthopedic surgeons, too.

Palsson, who's paper was recently highlighted in a post on The New York Times, says mobile multitasking lead to a 10 percent uptick in childhood accidents between 2005 and 2012, including broken bones and concussions. The increase was only applicable to children under six, as older kids are more capable of keeping themselves uninjured without constant aid of an older set of eyes.

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Earlier this year, pediatric researchers in Boston showed that parents are increasingly distracted by mobile devices. That study failed to pinpoint any specific childrearing consequences, but it suggested regular interruption to the child-parent relationship could have an emotional impact.

That study made the case that cellphones are changing how we parent. Now, Palsson has attempted to measure the effects of these proliferating devices -- a subject that's likely to become increasingly popular for other behavioral scientists.

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