I just returned from a trip to New York City. One of the things I enjoy doing when I visit is to walk. It is often times the fastest way to get where you want to go unless you use the subway. One of the things I noticed this trip was very disturbing. Most people walking around the city are looking down at their cell phones or speaking on the phone and not paying attention. I was rammed into so many times; I just wanted to stop the world and scream, “Look up!”

It is no wonder with the explosion of social media and smart phones that more people are getting injured while walking, talking and texting. A study done at Ohio State University found that the number of emergency room visits for pedestrian injuries related to cell phones tripled between 2004 and 2010. They noted that those between the ages of 16 and 25 were at highest risk.

There did not seem to be that much of an age distinction this past week. I saw men and women young and old looking down at their phones. In a city where there are major pot- holes, uneven sidewalks and open cellar doors leading into bakeries and restaurants there are some serious injuries waiting to happen.

There are wonderful things to look at strolling around New York. It is a shame that many are missing out. In addition to the enjoyment factor, it makes sense to pay attention to avoid not only danger from injury but also danger from crime. Staying alert and aware is important for overall safety.

Last year police were stunned when security footage revealed that a man on the San Francisco light-rail had his gun in plain sight and was waving it around before he finally fired into the back of a college student. No one noticed because they were staring down at their phones.

How many other things are we missing while we are allowing ourselves to get sucked into the cyber-world? I challenge all Americans young and old to get back into the real world to enjoy it and be safe. It is time for all of us to look up!