One in four parents admitted their child has had an accident or "near miss" while they were engrossed by their phones, according to a survey of 2,000 parents by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) for Child Safety Week
The CAPT warn that a baby can drown or be seriously burnt in the same amount of time it takes to check a text.
"Serious accidents happen in seconds, often while we’re distracted, and mobiles are seriously distracting," CAPT chief executive, Katrina Phillips said.
"That’s why we’re encouraging families to turn off technology at pressure points during the day, to help keep children safe."
The study also looked into when parents check their mobile phones.
Of those surveyed, 85% of parents admitted that when their phone makes a sound or vibrates, they check for updates "immediately".
This behaviour is rubbing off on children too, according to parents, with almost one in six (15%) suffering an accident or near miss, like stepping out onto the road without looking, while on their own mobile phones.
"While mobile phones are a godsend for parents under pressure – we can do the shopping, keep in touch with friends and family, and keep our children entertained - we’re putting children in danger," added Phillips.
Phillips said the CAPT aims to equip families with knowledge about serious accident risks to children and the simple steps they can take to prevent them.
The CAPT also aims to bring attention to the fact that accidental injury in general is one of the biggest killers of children in the UK as they state that childhood accidents cost the NHS over £275 million a year.
Speaking to The Huffington Post UK, Phillips offered 10 tips for parents on how to keep children safe from all accidents that can occur in the household:
1. Turn your phone off or put it on silent and leave it in another room at busy times of day, like mealtimes and bath time. A baby can drown or be seriously burnt in the same amount of time it takes to check a text.
2. Parents aren’t the only ones who get distracted by mobiles: set a good example to your children by never using your phone while crossing the road.
3. A hot drink can burn a young child even 15 minutes after it has been made. Put your much-needed mug of tea or coffee down somewhere your baby or toddler can’t grab at it.
4. Detergent liqui-tabs are really convenient for laundry on the run, but pose risks to young children. If yours are under the sink, move them away from little hands and mouths. Look for products with a bittering agent – this makes the liqui-tabs taste disgusting so children spit them out.
5. Remember three- to four-year-olds can open child safety caps in seconds (‘child-resistant’ doesn’t mean ‘child-proof’). Keep medicines away from small hands too. Don’t forget the painkillers in your bag – painkillers are the most common cause of poisoning for small children.
6. Toddlers can choke on food that’s too big, even just the size of a grape. Always cut their food up into small, narrow pieces, especially round food like grapes and cherry tomatoes.
7. Trampolines are a great way for children to work off surplus energy. But remember, it’s safest if there’s just one child on the trampoline. And use safety netting or a safety cage so children can’t be thrown to the ground.
8. Small children can mistake button batteries for sweets. If swallowed, a button battery can burn a hole through their throat and kill within hours. So keep objects with accessible button batteries well out of young children’s reach and take care when replacing batteries.
9. In five seconds a toddler’s skin can be burned so badly by hot tap water that they need to go to hospital. So, at bath time, put the cold water in first and top up with hot, then test the water with your elbow, to reduce the risk of your child being burned.
10. Drowning is silent and babies can drown in as little as 5cm of water. So stay with your baby or small child when they’re in the bath. And remember, while bath seats can be a great help, they’re not safety aids – so don’t leave your baby alone in one, even for a moment.