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Teenage girl looking at cellphone

What began as a method of emergency contact has evolved into a 24/7 distraction, spurring what many would classify as a digital addiction for adults and teens alike.

According to a new study, two-thirds of teenagers admit to using apps on their cellphones while driving — and over half of parents do the same.

“In this age we are all hostages to digital media,” said Dr. Eugene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We’re compelled. We’re tethered to the use of our digital devices.”

The study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions showed adults engage in distracted driving behaviors with their cellphones, modeling dangerous habits for their children.

Beresin, a senior adviser with SADD, said 50 percent of parents have knowingly texted their teen while the teen is driving.

“Are we apt to use our phones to the detriment of ourselves and our loved ones?” Beresin said. “The answer is yes.”

State laws have been enacted to combat the trend, with hand-held cell use banned behind the wheel in 16 states and Washington, D.C. Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 47 states and D.C.

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