One sunny July afternoon in a San Francisco park, tech recruiter Phil Tirapelle was tapping away on his cellphone while walking with his 18-month-old son. As he was texting his wife, his son wandered off in front of a policeman who was breaking up a domestic dispute.
“I was looking down at my mobile, and the police officer was looking forward,” and his son “almost got trampled over,” he says. “One thing I learned is that multitasking makes you dumber.”
Yet a few minutes after the incident, he still had his phone out. “I’m a hypocrite. I admit it,” he says. “We all are.”
Is high-tech gadgetry diminishing the ability of adults to give proper supervision to very young children? Faced with an unending litany of newly proclaimed threats to their kids, harried parents might well roll their eyes at this suggestion. But many emergency-room doctors are worried: They see the growing use of hand-held electronic devices as a plausible explanation for the surprising reversal of a long slide in injury rates for young children. There have even been a few extreme cases of death and near drowning.