Are Kids More Bored Today Than We Were?
Full Disclosure: I’m not a parent. Without getting into detail,s it doesn’t seem to be in the cards, though you never do know what God has in store, do you? Up until now I am the Titi of biological and adopted sobrinas (nieces) and sobrinos (nephews).
This provides an observation platform where I can evaluate family and friend’s parenting style, silently think of what I would do differently, and keep it all in my private “file of life” so as not to alienate anyone I love. However, without naming names, a blog is the perfect platform to share these observations without naming names.
Observation Number One: Boredom in children, especially pre-teens and teens, is nothing new. Boredom is a natural part of life and likely serves some evolutionary purpose. I remember being bored in the summer as a kid when there was nothing to do. And I remember dealing with it. If I complained mami or papi would would say, “Go outside and play.” Or if that wasn’t possible, “Go play with your brother.” In short, our boredom was not their problem and we found fun and creative ways to deal with it. There was a whole world of “pretending” that we engaged in which I remember fondly.
Today, as a keen Titi observer, it seems that kids are more intensely bored when they’re not stimulated 100% of their waking hours. And it seems that parents feel the need take on their kid’s boredom at all times. God forbid if the family is out and one of the children’s devices runs out of power or is forgotten at home, or even lost by the child. There is Holy Hell to pay by the parent. When did it become child abuse for kids to be bored? I’m curious because I see the anxiety it causes parents when a kid exclaims, “I’m bored!”.
I wonder what would happen if the parents suggested they use their imagination? An imagination is a terrible thing to waste and this Titi observer sees it atrophying with the constant, and often, mindless engagement with devices, video games, and/or an unrelenting itinerary of scheduled activities.
Here is a thought, maybe there is a place in childhood for boredom. Not constant boredom of course. But those periods of unscheduled time where a child has to figure out on his or her own how to fill some of it, say if their device is out of power while they are visiting a relative in the hospital, or running errands with their parents, etc. Maybe these moments are the times when the seeds of ideas for the future will be planted. Or when being present and observant will open new insights into the world and people around them.
This begs the question, “Are children losing out on a certain level of development by not being allowed to be bored?” I don’t know the answer, but I think it’s something to consider.
I understand that I don’t bear the brunt of the “I’m bored!” complaint. I can up and leave when I choose. But I fear for a whole generation of youth that seems to be letting their imagination atrophy and the parent who want to please them so much that they don’t allow them to learn how to deal with life’s minor frustrations on their own.
Isn’t handling boredom in a constructive or creative way a life lesson, a tool of sorts that we carry with us throughout our lives?