Should Kids Have More Opportunities To Experience Boredom?

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Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says in an article on the BBC website:

“Dr. Teresa Belton, a researcher at the University of East Anglia in Britain, says that cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.

Dr Belton, who is an expert in the impact of emotions on behavior and learning, said boredom could be an ‘uncomfortable feeling’ and that society had ‘developed an expectation of being constantly occupied and constantly stimulated.’ But she warned that being creative ‘involves being able to develop internal stimulus.’

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: ‘When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased. But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.’

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen ‘tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity.'” (Read more here.)

I remember boredom from my childhood; I haven’t been bored for a long time, because there’s always more than enough to do. But I do resist filling my kids’ time with constant activity; I want them to develop the capacity to generate their own fun.

What do you think—are kids insufficiently bored today? (I know what some of you will say: they’re plenty bored in class, when they can’t do anything about it.)

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2 Responses to “Should Kids Have More Opportunities To Experience Boredom?”

  1. Jay Bowles says:

    I like the idea that a lack of external stimulation leads to the intrinsic motivation for creativity. However, I feel that there is a danger in allowing children too much space. We must be careful to provide structured environments for our children to explore. By approaching the problem that you describe with the aim of finding optimal stimulation levels, we can circumvent the danger of leaving our children bored (in the most negative sense of the word).

    Thanks for writing this article!

  2. Uzma says:

    A fallen apple from the tree, inspired a resting scentist to *think* about a force that pulls everything downward =) This teaches us how boredom or doing nothing at all can lead to discoveries and innovations.

    In today’s world of connectivity, what I feel is that kids too are hooked to the gadgets. They cannot be entertained without an electronic device.

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