Woman with cell walk and text

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ever since the technology boom, people born in the 80s and onwards have been coined the head down generation. According to KTSW News, the head down generation is a term used to describe people who constantly have their face buried in technology and letting the world just pass them by.

The typical mobile subscriber now sends and receives more texts than phone calls. Informate Mobile Intelligence published findings from a report that tracked and measured consumer use of smartphones in 12 countries. “Our data reveals that most Americans love texting and would rather send a text than make a call,” said Informate CEO Will Hodgman. “While, in many Asia Pacific and Latin American countries, the data reveals a strong preference for chat apps like WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook Messenger.”

The report found that the average American makes or answers six phone calls per day, sends and receives 32 texts (equivalent to about 26 minutes in a day), and spends 14 minutes on chat/VOIP. People in the United States have the highest average rate of monthly data consumption, at 19 gigabytes (across cellular and Wi-Fi).

Despite personal safety, people continue to walk and text. In a PLOS One study, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University found that people moved more slowly and took longer to avoid obstacles when using their smartphone during a walk. In the study, researchers built a path with two obstacles – a foam board to walk over and a step-up box to step on and over. Study participants were equipped with eye-tracking equipment and motion sensors. Each participant walked the same path multiple times without their phone, while talking on their phone, while reading a text message, and while replying to one.

The research found that participants texting on their phones had a shorter gait and walked slower compared to their phone-free counterparts.  These trials also took 68% longer than trials without a phone. For the step-up box test, participants texting while walking lifted their feet higher and more slowly to avoid obstacles and were 38% slower than trials without a phone.

The adaptations in gait when negotiating the surface height change were consistent with participants adopting an increasingly cautious stepping strategy, allowing participants more time to scan their surroundings, which may serve to reduce the risk of tripping/falling. However, the evidence isn’t concrete. Researchers warned that pedestrian-related accidents are still high and could be attributed to “tasks that require greater attentional demands and thus provide a greater demand on working memory; such as…crossing the road when you are required to attend to oncoming hazards (fellow pedestrians or cars), travelling at different velocities or when the phone interaction is increasingly demanding (i.e. a particularly engaging/important conversation).”

In 2010, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System states that over 1,500 pedestrians visited hospitals in US due to tripping, falling or walking into something whilst using their mobile phone. We want to remind you that when using the Walk10Blocks app, your app will track your blocks as long as the app is open and you have it in your pants’ pocket or in a pouch on your hip, arms, or legs. Do not be a pedestrian accident statistic. Stay safe and enjoy your neighbourhood walk!

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One Response to “The impact of walking and texting for the head down generation”
  1. testoxene.com

    While gait parameters were not different among visual task conditions, greater total medial-lateral excursion of the pelvis was observed in the walk and text condition compared to the walk only condition, showing the dual-task effects of texting on gait kinematics.


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