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Are Cell Phones Putting Our Kids at Risk?

I had a scare a couple of weeks ago.  I was driving my van down my street, and as I came around a small curve, a young girl of about 10 was riding her bike straight towards me.  I stopped, thinking that she would look up and get herself back up on the sidewalk.  But she never looked up.  Her eyes were cast down, and she was texting on her cell phone.

When I realized that she was going to run right into the front of my van, I honked my horn.  The sound startled her enough so that she looked up just in time, and she swerved around me.  And no, she was not wearing a helmet.

Had she hit me, even though I had stopped, she would have suffered a good deal of injury.  Had she been heading toward someone who may have been distracted, or driving at a faster rate of speed, she could have been killed.

I couldn’t shake that thought.  We have a number of residents who drive far faster than they should on our street, given that it is a very narrow street, and is shared by bicycles and children.

I knew where this little girl lived, but I did not know her parents.  I debated going to her house and speaking with her parents.  If it were my daughter, I would want to know.  But, you just never know how something like that is going to be received.

A few days later, the little girl was playing outside at a neighbor’s house, a few houses down from us.  I walked down and introduced myself to her.  She knew immediately who I was, and that I was the lady in the van.  I asked if I could speak to her, and she said yes.  And I held her hand and talked to her about how dangerous the situation was that she placed herself in.  I knew that the experience had impacted her, by the look of fear on her face when I honked my horn.  She was very polite and remorseful, and I felt like I had gotten through to her.  A few feet away, some of her little friends overheard our conversation, and I directed a brief “please don’t text while riding your bikes” speech.  In my nicest mom voice. Which by the way, is not the voice that I would have used if I were giving the same speech to my own children.

I went back home feeling that I had done some good.

But then a few days ago, when I was leaving the house to go out, I saw another little 10 year old girl riding her bike down the street. This was one of the children that had overheard my texting speech.   She was chatting on her cell phone, driving in the middle of the road, then up on the sidewalk, then back to the middle of the road.  And then she stopped talking, looked down at her phone, and began texting.

I am a loud proponent of banning texting and even cell phone usage while driving an automobile.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would be an issue with children riding their bikes.

This is not going to be a judgment against parents that allow their children to carry cell phones.  I know there are circumstances that call for it, I get that.  But I wonder if these parents understand the danger that their children are putting themselves into by allowing them to carry cell phones while they are out riding their bikes.

I now regret my decision not to go down and speak to the first little girl’s parents.  I’m going to give the moms and dads the benefit of the doubt, and believe that they have no idea their children are putting themselves in harms way.

But you can bet that I’m going to be taking to my keyboard to get the word out.  Here, and in my neighborhood.

Have you seen anything similar in your neighborhood? I fear that I won’t hear anything in the media, until something tragic occurs.

Please.  If your children carry cell phones, talk to them about the dangers of texting and driving.

19 Responses to Are Cell Phones Putting Our Kids at Risk?

  • Oregon just passed a law making it illegal anywhere and by anyone to be talking without a headset/handsfree device or texting at all while operating anything.

    There will be those that ignore it, and I hope they get a whopping fine because of it.

    Too many times we have ha near misses because of texting/talking on cell phones- and my husband is a serious cyclist. So, I feat for him more than when we ar in the car.

    Now that our kids are of driving age, we will continiue to havae those talks about not using the phone while in motion. Ever.

    And God help them the day they do and we know about it.

    Bye bye car. Bye bye freedom.

    I just hope the first time we know is not because they have caused serious injury to someone.

  • I think every car should come equipped w/ a blue tooth speaker located in a REASONABLE place in the car from now on.

    I do question why a 10 y.o needs a cell with free reign on it. I plan for the kids to have them eventually, but will have the limitations of being able to call/text me or their dad or their aunt, and thats it.
    as they earn privilidges they might be allowed to add a friend or two to the call list but not the text list.

  • I’ve never seen this but maybe you should write a letter to your local newspaper or bring it to a news channel. This might get the word out to more people.

  • I agree with the whole not texting while driving or riding a bike. My city doesn’t even required bike helmets which is driving me nuts! TX just passed a law saying no cell phone or texting in a school zone but I don’t think that is enough. Unfortuntately, nothing will probably happen to change until someone gets hurt or dies.

  • The sad thing is, a child’s usage is probably indicative of the parents. If a kid is chatting / texting on a bike, good chance the parent is doing the same behind the wheel.

    We’ve been having some problems here with pedestrians just stepping out in traffic while texting / chatting. (Generally teens — teens that aren’t old enough or have enough experience to realize that cars can NOT stop on a dime, and vans take longer.)

  • I like Viki’s idea. Take this to the paper. May I copy and link it (or just link) on my blog?

    Texting while walking/biking isn’t an issue today here in the frozen north, but it will be.

    Expect traffic from my facebook as well. This is getting a link there.
    Hi Tara,

    Just this minute I submitted it to our neighborhood newsletter, and the paper is next! Of course, I want to get the word out, so link and copy or just link. Whatever works best for you. THANK YOU!


  • I work at a major university and you would not believe the number of kids that ride their bikes or walk and text
    or talk on the phone while doing it.
    It not only puts them in danger but
    all the other pedestrians and cars
    on the street. I’ve had to slam on
    my brakes while driving on campus
    many times because someone texting
    walked right out in front of me. You are
    right to be concerned.

  • One day I was coming home from an errand in the late afternoon (almost dark) and a group of about 5 boys (ages 7-12) were standing in the middle of the road leading to our cul de sac in a circle.
    I knew my boy was not with them, but I immediately was suspicious.

    The huddle did not look football related. When I honked my horn (they were oblivious to my van or the headlights shining on them), they looked up in shock, then quickly disbanded in different directions.
    I saw that they had been looking at a cell phone, and it sent chills down my spine. Now MAYBE they were looking at a funny video clip or something (in the middle of the road in the dark), but my Mom radar went off!
    My kids got a huge, long lecture when we got home about not watching things on other people’s cell phones- EVER. They do not have cell phones, nor will they for a LONG time.
    I just don’t want to think about what a kid can get a hold of that they are not mature enough to handle or even understand at their ages.
    We need to unite as moms and pray for the protection of their innocence and physical safety! And I will not step down from my soap box…

  • Our 12-13 year old neighbor consistently rides his scooter/bike up the road while on a cell phone. I haven’t seen him go off the sidewalk yet but in order to go to some of the houses on other streets, he has to, so I’m sure he is still on the cell phone when he does. It TERRIFIES me to no end because like on your street, folks drive much faster than they should.

  • A young man was killed not too long ago in the next town over while texting. He and some friends were in a median waiting to cross a busy road. They started to cross then some of the teens saw a car coming at the last moment and moved back. The texting teen didn’t see it and was killed instantly. They were on foot. It’s the attention being drawn to a tiny little screen that is the problem, their focus is so narrow. We have a cell phone that our kids share if any of them are going somewhere without my husband or I or another adult but the phone is not for casual use-they can only use it to say they are ready to be picked up or are on the way home, etc. It is for convenience/safety not a social tool. I had AT&T block their phone from being able to send or receive anything but phone calls. Their brains just aren’t physically capable of seeing the big picture and thinking things through.

  • I have seen this with a little girl that lives on my street. It terrifies me, along with the epidemic of people addicted to talking, emailing, texting at ALL times, in ALL places!! And I wanted to pass along the new software that has been developed (by a mom, I believe) to help prevent teens from talking/texting while in the car. It is called “IZUP” and disables your phones ability to send or receive calls or texts when moving in a car, either driving or as a passenger. It still allows for 911 access & parental controls can allow specific numbers to be active so you can reach your child. I will DEF be looking into to this for my children!

  • I used to live right next to the high school. I would always drive slowly through the school zone but had to be on constant alert for a teenager just wandering into the street while texting. It always made me nervous especially thinking of how many of the drivers on that street were other high school kids that might not be as good at paying attention as I was.

  • Wow, I never would have thought about cell phones & bikes! What a great point you’ve made! I bet other parents haven’t thought of it either, if they haven’t experienced it like you have! Thank you for sharing this!

  • A tween in Dallas county was hit by a vehicle when she stepped off of the sidewalk to cross the street while texting. I don’t remember the detailing, but the message was clear: her texting basically led her to walk herself into oncoming traffic!

  • I teach at an elementary school in Austin, Texas. We have posted signs that cell phone use (of any kind) is not allowed in the school zone during business hours. It is a city ordinance. I agree that parents must be educated, too. (And PS: it used to break my heart to help one of my first graders into their car after school and find mom talking on a cell phone and giving the little one the “QUIET, I”M ON THE PHONE” signal. All the little six year olds want to do is tell about their day, and Mom (who has had all day) is on the phone.)

  • That’s it. We’re moving to a cabin in the mountains. This is the type of stuff that freaks me out because I cannot control what other parents allow their kids to do and it greatly impacts ME and MY KIDS.

  • tracey…for all intents we live in the mountains…have six acres, no visible neighbors…heck I’ll even go one further i sleep w/ out the doors locked half the time cause I forget….then you have the alternate issue of your kids being so fascinated when you go to town all they want to do is call nana and tell her about their “bacashun in the city”
    where there are restaraunts on every street…LOL

  • Just a little nudge — it’s still not too late to go visit that little girl’s parents, and I would. And the other little girl’s parents, too, if you know who they are. If you’re worried about a confrontation, put a note in their mailbox instead — a copy of this post with the handwritten note appended, “This was your daughter,” would more than suffice…

    Loved this, and will forward it around!