|The road sign, designed by Jacob Sempler and Emil|
Tiisman, in Stockholm. Photo: AFP
by Chris Graham, The Telegraph,
4 February 2016
Swedish artists design and erect signs in Stockholm to stop people endangering themselves and others
It really is a sign of the times.
Noticing that smartphone-addicted pedestrians were putting themselves and others in danger, two Swedish artists decided to design and erect roadsigns in Stockholm urging people to stop staring at their phones while walking in the street.
"I am dependent on social media myself. And one day on my way to work I was almost run over because I was staring at my phone like a sick person," Jacob Sempler, who created the signs with his colleague Emil Tiisman, told The Local.
"It hit me then that I'm not the only one with this behaviour and that it ought to be addressed somehow."
The odd triangular signs, which depict a man and a woman with heads bowed as they stare at their phones, initially caused a stir in the Swedish capital when they first appeared around the city in November. Since then, news of the signs have gradually spread around the world on social media.
One user on Twitter, Amy Alkon, said: "A pity that street signs can't yell, 'Hey, wake up, idiot!'"
Others noted that it was a problem around the world. "Glad to see this is not only happening in America," tweeted Richard Gersten.
Mr Sempler agreed the problem was not unique to Sweden.
"You can see it all over the world. If you're out walking in any city at all these days, you see people completely glued to their phones. It's rather tragicomical, really, that social media in many ways have made us less social," he told the newspaper.
The signs are not the first attempt to tackle the issue.
In Belgium, Antwerp has given smartphone users their own designated lanes, where they can walk while looking at their mobiles without annoying or endangering others.
However, a study last year found smartphone users might not be as oblivious to their surroundings as some might think.
Academics at the University of Bath and Texas, US, found that texting causes people to slow their pace and make large, exaggerated movements to negotiate crowds and compensate for their diminished vision.
Dubbed the "protective shuffle", it did not seem to work for radio researcher Laura Safe who was videoed walking into the Birmingham canal while texting.
As well as endangering pedestrians, smartphones are also causing health problems, according to the British Chiropractic Association.
It has found a rise in the number of young people with back problems, as the amount of time spent leaning over small phone screens can put spinal discs under pressure.