Experts spotlight dangerous obsession after New Mexico teen electrocuted in bathtub

A teenager in New Mexico died over the weekend. She was electrocuted while using her cell phone in the bathtub.

Madison Coe, a 14-year-old from Texas, was at her father’s home in New Mexico. Her family says she either plugged her phone into an outlet, or grabbed it while it was charging as she sat in the tub.

Coe’s father found his daughter in the tub with a burn mark on her hand where she grabbed her phone.

Dr. Josh Green, an emergency room physician, says the teen likely suffered an arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat.

“In the case of the child that died, when her cell phone, which was plugged in, fell into the bathtub, that electric current went into the water, it very likely stopped her heart,” said Green.

He says it could happen to anyone, especially with the constant use of electronic devices.

“Very likely because the phone was plugged in, it was still having an electrical current come through the wire. It went to the water. That’s why you don’t want any electrical devices: hair curling irons, a cell phone plugged in, a computer plugged in. Don’t do that near water. You can have one of these tragic outcomes,” said Green.

Richard Bornder, a Chaminade University professor of anthropology and geology, says the tragedy is “very symptomatic of the generation she’s in, where basically apps and phones are reality. You see the world through what you see through your phone. Therefore, that becomes central to life.”

Behavioral sciences professor Darren Iwamoto considers it an addiction.

“I realized that’s not an uncommon thing in a sense,: Iwamoto said. “In a lot of ways, when the battery goes low, the first thing people want to do is charge it. They don’t want to lose their place in the news feed of Facebook or Instagram.”

Iwamoto urges parents and adults to disconnect from time to time.

“Teach our younger generation moderation,” said Iwamoto. “It’s about impulse control, taking care of what needs to be done now. It’s about respecting your priority list.”

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