Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting out it front... getting it out of in front.

While I am have, as a strong intention, to not cloud my writings about kids and the media with doom and gloom, there are some issues which are dangerous that have to be looked at.

Texting and driving is one of those issues. 

On June 7, the CNN wire staff reported:
In a landmark case for the state, Aaron Deveau, 18, was found guilty on charges of vehicular homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle in a 2011 crash that fatally injured Donald Bowley, 55, of Danville, New Hampshire, and seriously injured a passenger in Bowley's car.

We know that teen drivers are easily distracted, swayed and often naive to the power and consequences of automobiles... and this is a whole new thing. I often think about the fact that, a few years ago, before texting was so prevalent, talking on the phone while driving was considered tantamount to driving drunk... that conversation has all but disappeared.  I remember one of my first times driving alone I was drinking a frappe -- I sneezed and the shake covered the windshield -- I couldn't see at all -- I had to pull over. Somehow, this never happens to me as a grown-up.

Now -- my kids are younger than this -- not anywhere near driving age. Phew! But that is a relief not only that they are not yet driving -- the relief is that I still have time to work on this issue.

I think one of the thing about so much of this media stuff is that we are being thrown into it without time to process -- having to make parenting decisions without really understanding what we are getting into...

The laws are all going to change. I honestly think lots of other issues about privacy and children... those are going to catch up with technology.

But texting in the car is something we all have to take care of immediately. And if we are lucky enough that our children are still young enough not to be driving yet -- now is especially the time.

We need to model the behavior for them.

Unfortunately we can't do this for everything... imagine saying, Look, sweetie, I'm not drinking before I drive -- so don't you do that either. Usually we are in the position only to model bad behavior.

But in this case, with phones so prevalent everywhere, we have the opportunity to show them how to put it away... 

I've been trying to zip my phone into my bag and put the bag on the floor lately. I admit it -- I check it sometimes. I do.

And the children help me work on it. They are concerned about it, and that will, hopefully, cause them to know that when they are in the car -- either as passenger or as driver.

Their pediatrician even told them a story once -- I assume she made it up, but she told us that she had been texting in the parking line to get out of the hospital one morning -- and that she hit the car in front of her. She said it was a situation where she wouldn't normally worry about it because everyone was going so slow...

We've always seen people doing crazy things in cars -- I remember seeing people read the newspaper in morning traffic. I remember how crazy that looked.

Look at THIS crazy picture that a Times photographer got because he was doing another story!! I will be keeping it in my head.

We need to model -- and we need to do it.

As with so many parts of the media equation, it is about balancing the capacity with the power of what we control. 

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