Americans rely on their phones and often take it wherever they go. Plugging in an iPhone or other device while getting ready for work, or placing it in the bathroom so you can answer it while getting ready is fairly common. During the summer months, reaching for a wet phone near the pool or recharging it near water is also a typical occurrence.
The familiarity of smart devices make it almost second nature to have them handy, but that type of nonchalance can be deadly.
In a heartbreaking story, a 14-year-old girl was killed Sunday when she reached for her phone in the bathtub. Madison Coe of Lubbock, Texas was electrocuted by using a wet hand to grab it while it was attached to an electrical socket and charging.
Visiting her father in New Mexico, the eighth grader apparently either answered her phone, or it fell into the tub and killed her. The shocking story has gained national headlines and highlights the dependence on electronics in today’s Information Age.
Teens stay glued to their phones. It’s not uncommon to see large groups of adolescents staring blankly at tiny screens. In fact, researchers discovered that teenagers spend a whopping nine hours a day interacting with digital media. The study was compiled in 2015, so it’s entirely likely that the number has increased.
Common Sense Media reports that children ages 8 to 12 spend approximately 6 hours in front of digital screens. That’s more time than they spend with parents and it doesn’t include gadgets used for homework.
Likewise, American teenagers ages 13 to 18 spend on average 9 hours a day on their phones, watching television, or viewing the Internet. Nearly two-thirds of the kids surveyed think that they can multitask, looking at screens while doing homework and other activities. Sadly, it isn’t true.
Most of the static time is passive, meaning that kids are watching videos or shows. Social media is another area that is constantly monitored, and teens like Coe are becoming more and more attached to their electronic devices.
However, it’s not as if the kids don’t have parental influence. Another survey revealed that adults spend more time on phones and laptops than sleeping. Experts say that the increasing amount of dedication to electronics isn’t healthy.
The blue screen light wreaks havoc on the body’s natural sleep cycles by stopping the production of melanin. Lack of sleep also increases mental health problems and may lead to infertility. Stimulating the brain with social media before going to bed overloads the working memory of the brain, creating restless rest.
The problem is only growing. As society places greater reliance on smart devices and checking social media, the risks expand. For Madison Coe, her dependence on her smart phone led to her death.
Coe’s grandmother, Donna O’Guinn told reporters that there was a burn mark on the teenager’s hand. She thinks that Madison grabbed the phone while it was charging. The grieving woman said it was “very obvious” what had happened.
The family is using the tragedy to try to promote healing, fostering awareness about the dangers of phones and how to properly handle them. O’Guinn said that they want something good to emerge from this terrible event. Hopefully, no one else will have to suffer as they have.
Coe’s school, part of the Frenship Independent School District, offered its condolences and “heartfelt sympathy” to the family. Her friends have established a GoFundMe campaign to help the parents cover funeral expenses.
The tragic death of such a young girl serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers of smart phones. They aren’t crucial to life and it’s okay to not take them into the bathroom. Although many models are waterproof, when the phone is charging it can be lethal.
Coe was to have started High School in Houston, where the family planned to relocate this summer. The memorial for the Lubbock teen is scheduled on July 14 at the First United Methodist Church in Lovington, Texas.