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Why China Is Freaking Out Over This Mom

Photograph by Facebook

Technology is fun. Technology is useful. Technology is also killing us.

A surveillance video showing a mother run over a child has gone viral in China and sparked outrage and a call for a conversation about smartphone addiction and the overuse of technology. The New York Times reported on the video, which shows a slow-moving SUV run over a toddler that veered in its path. The girl, reported in some places to be the driver's daughter, is crushed under the automobile.

Witnesses rush to stop her. They yell at her what has happened. The driver gets out of the car, runs around behind it to see what they're talking about. The video abruptly ends.

Reporters on the piece say that this and other incidents in China have caused outrage over tech addiction, particularly when it comes to parenting. Nearly all internet users in China—amounting to more than 700 million—use only their phones to go online. Like smartphone users in the U.S., Chinese smartphone users are shopping, checking in on social media, finding directions and living their lives through a tiny screen on their phones.

The ease and availability of a handheld smartphone is causing untold distraction, which is putting lives at risk. And it continues despite government warnings—and similar, deadly incidents in China.

This is a familiar refrain for Americans, where texting and driving (and distracted driving) continues, despite new laws and harsher penalties against it.

In the U.S., nearly one in four traffic accidents involves a smartphone. Mostly, these are rear-end collisions. But as the number of fatalities has increased, new laws banning the use of handheld devices while driving have also increased around the nation. Other countries have imposed harsh penalties for using smartphones while driving. They also put out public service announcements and signs warning of dangers are everywhere. According to the Times piece, however, PSAs and warning signs are few and far between in China.

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