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Jan 22, 2018







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Texting Teens
Granite Views: Rona Zlokower

07/03/14
By Rona Zlokower



Long walks on trails, jumps off bobbing rafts into cool lakes, races across city swimming pools — they’re all summer experiences of lucky New Hampshire teens. 
For many, outdoor summer fun will be interspersed with their 50th Walking Dead episode (Netflix binging is not just an adult addiction) and texting friends (on average, 65 to 100 times a day).  The average child, age 8 to 18, spends eight hours a day with media and 14 hours when multitasking, using more than one media device at a time.  As teens know, ignore a text or Facebook posting and you risk being “de-friended” or perhaps losing a friend in real life.
According to the CDC’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, published this week, texting doesn’t stop for many New Hampshire teens even while driving. Nationwide, 41 percent of students who had driven a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days reported texting or emailing while driving.
In New Hampshire, 47 percent of teens reported the at-risk behavior. These teens may not get to enjoy their next phone upgrade or next summer.
Distracted driving, evidence shows, is risky and sometimes deadly, for the driver and other victims. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death among teenagers — surpassing drinking and driving. 
That should change dramatically on July 15, as Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign HB 1360,  banning all cell phone use by minors and continuing to allow adults to talk on cell phones if they use hands-free phones, devices built into the vehicle and two-way radios.
When they’re not driving, teens will be texting, watching movies and downloading series or video games all summer. But what they will recall from summer of 2014 are the hikes in cool woods, plunges into oceans and lakes, family trips, reading books in the shade of a tree, enjoying fireworks or camping with friends. 
So that children have years of summer adventures ahead, parents should talk often about the consequences of technology use while driving. Parents are role models and must be mindful of their own behaviors. 
MIT Sociologist Sherry Turkle, who studies technology and social interactions, says, “The lure of the next text may be greater than human will.” 
Hopefully, New Hampshire teens will show their wills to make healthy and safe choices and enjoy endless summers full of great memories, absent of texting and driving.
Rona Zlokower is executive director of Media Power Youth, a nonprofit based in Manchester that empowers youth to lead healthy safe lives through smart use of media. Visit mediapoweryouth.org or email rona.zlokower@mediapoweryouth.org.
 
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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