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J Exerc Rehabil. 2017 Feb 28;13(1):48-54. doi: 10.12965/jer.1732920.460. eCollection 2017 Feb.

Effects of smartphone texting on the visual perception and dynamic walking stability.

Author information

1
Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA.
2
Department of Kinesiology, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA.
3
Department of Kinesiology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, USA.
4
School of Exercise & Sport Science, College of Natural Sciences, University of Ulsan, Ulsan, Korea.

Abstract

Mobile phone use while walking can cause dual-task interference and increases safety risks by increasing attentional and cognitive demands. While the interference effect on cognitive function has been examined extensively, how perception of the environment and walking dynamics are affected by mobile phone use while walking is not well understood. The amount of visual information loss and its consequent impact on dynamic walking stability was examined in this study. Young adults (mean, 20.3 years) volunteered and walked on a treadmill while texting and attending to visual tasks simultaneously. Performance of visual task, field of regard loss, and margin of stability under dual-task conditions were compared with those of single-task conditions (i.e., visual task only). The results revealed that the size of visual field and visual acuity demand were varied across the visual task conditions. Approximately half of the visual cues provided during texting while walking were not perceived as compared to the visual task only condition. The field of regard loss also increased with increased dual-task cost of mobile phone use. Dynamic walking stability, however, showed no significant differences between the conditions. Taken together, the results demonstrate that the loss of situational awareness is unavoidable and occurs simultaneously with decrements in concurrent task performance. The study indicates the importance of considering the nature of attentional resources for the studies in dual-task paradigm and may provide practical information to improve the safe use of mobile phones while walking.

KEYWORDS:

Attention; Dual-task; Gait stability; Situational awareness; Texting

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