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Kids With Cell Phones Not as Safe Crossing Streets
Date:4/11/2008

Study found those who were distracted by conversation had higher risk of being hit

FRIDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Children who talk on a cell phone may not be able to cross the road safely.

A study being presented in Miami Friday at the National Conference on Child Health Psychology, hosted by the University of Miami, finds that children who are distracted this way may be more likely to be hit by a vehicle or cross streets in an unsafe manner.

"It's important for children to know, as it is for drivers, the importance of safety when talking on the cell phone," said study author Katherine Byington, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We need to educate children and parents of the risk and danger that's involved in that."

"The message from this study is that children, particularly in this age group, are certainly at higher risk due to distraction," added Dr. Judy Schaechter, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami. "Of course, one doesn't know what would happen in real life, if the caller on the other side were not a researcher but instead was your best friend, the boy you like, your recent ex or the parent you're arguing with. I would imagine those types of conversations would put more of a demand on a child's attention and thus be more dangerous."

A related study, also from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, found that one-third of children aged 10 to 12 own a cell phone.

According to background information from the authors, the seemingly simple act of crossing the street actually involves complex brain processes. And "unintentional pedestrian injury" is a leading cause of death in middle childhood.

At the same time, more and younger children have cell phones. "There's a big market to children with cell phones these days,"
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