Benign neglect

Faith & Inspiration

I joined the cell phone revolution later than most of you-on April 28, to be precise. Until then I had what my kids called a "drug dealer's phone," a cheap and "disposable" piece of hardware with way overpriced minutes you buy off a card at a convenience store. I rarely used it. My new apparatus makes phone calls and takes pictures and is dazzling to the eye and does many wonders that I am only beginning to discover.

So I was doing some of that "discovering" at the playground on a recent afternoon, where my granddaughter was playing with other children. Indeed, it was the fact that she was occupied playing with other children that was my justification for getting lost in my own world, leaning against the monkey bars.

My reverie was broken by the sound of a child's voice: "Mimi, can you stop playing with your cell phone and play with me?" Startled, I perceived in an instant that I had become one of those adults that up until last month I had privately disdained-an adult who can't even take a walk down the block with a child without being tethered to a phone. I had told myself that it was "just this once" and "only because my granddaughter was occupied with other things," but I was well on my way to "doing the thing I hate" (Romans 7:15).

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

I saw a link to a commentary in the British tabloid The Telegraph titled "Mobile addict parents guilty of child 'neglect,' warns psychologist":

"A generation of young people is growing up with a virtual addiction to computers, televisions, and smartphones, with striking similarities to alcoholism, according to Dr. Aric Sigman. … He told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference in Glasgow, … 'Passive parenting' in the face of the new media environment is a form of benign neglect and not in the best interests of children. Parents must regain control of their own households.'"

After my playground companion's gentle chiding, I stashed my cell phone in my pocket and gave her vigorous pushes on the swing, and played "squashed lemons" with her on the sliding board-which is what the still, small voice of my conscience had whispered from the start would be a better use of this precious time with a little girl who is growing up before my eyes.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Job-seeker friendly

    Southern California churches reach the unemployed through job fairs 


    After a fiery trial

    Intelligent design proponent David Coppedge reflects on his wrongful termination…