Separation anxiety for the mom, technology for the child?

I remember well when my first born was a toddler and I dropped him off at his Montessori daycare for the first time for a few hours. He was fine going, but the look of utter relief in his tiny face when he saw me at pick-up time, that will never, ever leave me.

Did he suffer from separation anxiety while I was gone?

Likely he experienced a variety of emotions, from sadness to curiosity and everything in between. At 17 months he was now exposed to learning to be in a classroom and getting to know new faces and making friends without me nearby. He learned how to navigate a world outside of his comfort zone while wondering why his mommy left him all alone with these strangers.

As far as I remember, he didn’t cry when I waved and left the school.

I, on the other hand, did. I cried.

Separation anxiety takes on many forms, and isn’t reserved for tiny children.

Fast forward to today: Benjamin is entering grade 3 this September. With grade 4 looming a short school year away, a new milestone (and many complicated decisions) will be upon us in no time. This will be a year of transition for all of us, but especially for Benjamin. He knows that this may be his last year at his current school since we are contemplating he change schools to enter French Immersion for grade 4.

Ben doesn’t like change all that much, although with lots of preparation time, open dialogue, and reassurances he will make the transition just fine. But the journey to that new beginning will begin this September at his old school.

It’s gonna be tough, is what I’m saying.

Which is why I’m researching cell phones for children.

Honestly, I am not ready to enter the technology world with this kid. I’m not worried so much about him, he is mature and rarely breaks rules. He would do well if we chose to give him a phone with strings attached. He would be more than fine, and very, very proud.

But it would be something I did for the wrong reasons. My reasons, not his needs,. I’m the one who feels a need to stay connected to this boy. I seriously doubt that the thought even entered his mind, to try and connect with mom while at school. He doesn’t currently contact me while at school, why would he if he went to a different school? If he needs help he can go to a teacher. This is what he does now.

I don’t like it. I don’t like the idea of separation, even though I look forward to time away from the kids. It’s such a slippery slope…

I think and research a lot about this topic. My worries are misplaced, and handing the boy a cell phone so he can text me that he’s arrived at school safely in his school bus is just ridiculous. The current school is a ten minute walk away, the new school a 10 minute drive. The school bus picks him up at the old school…and returns him to the old school at the same time as his sister comes out of class from that school.  I will be there to pick up both children, like I have been now for several years. Theoretically, nothing will change.

I don’t know why I worry, but I do. The idea of my then-9-going-on-10 year old son being only a text away makes me feel better. But does self-inflicted anxiety warrant the added expense of having another person on a cell phone plan?

I just don’t know.

I read some really good commentary in this article, and will likely continue to research this topic for some time. I know it’s coming, this children-and-technology thing. It already has to some degrees, both kids can and do manipulate whatever technology is around the house now, but soon, they will want their own.

The Nabi has served a purpose for now. But soon, it won’t be enough anymore. I’m even starting to consider purchasing a Wii…we must be one of very few families around here that hasn’t caved to the Wii craze that seems to be very popular among especially boys. So we shall see.

In the meantime, I’m not convinced that my own insecurities are a good enough reason to get Benjamin a cell phone when he enters grade 4 next year. Unless something happens between now and then and I change my mind.

Until then, I stick to texting with adults, and leave my child out of it.

Other posts about media and children:

When children consume media

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2 thoughts on “Separation anxiety for the mom, technology for the child?

  1. Hm…interesting. Let me know what you decide to do. I have very deliberately been trying to be a little looser with the older two, because this is exactly the kind of thing I would fret about and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I heard a radio program once about a program you can install on your kids’ cell phone that will automatically check in with you when they arrive at certain locations – if you do get him the phone, this might be a good idea as I think he’d be likely to forget to text you, and this way you’ll get the notification no matter what and don’t need to panic.

  2. Honestly I don’t know what I’m going to do. Likely I will do nothing… 🙂 It was so interesting to see the different personalities in the two kids on the first day of school this year, where Sonja as a little 5yo just marched into the chaos and asked, demanded to know whose list she was on and where to stand in line. Ben on the other hand held my hand and admitted feeling confused…I don’t know what I’ll do when he switches school. Not sure technology will solve the problem…we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

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