Do we spoil our children? Is it healthy or harmful for children to be bored?

While teenagers and young adults may have been long thought to be more tech-savvy than their parents or older relatives, it is more and more common now for younger children to be relative experts with an iPad, the latest electronic gadgets, the TV remote, and even the internet.

Children are often completely saturated with digital distractions, with little time or interest in exploring the world outside the various screens that surround them. For many parents, letting their child play with an iPad, digital game or watch TV is a way to keep their children occupied and stave off their inevitable boredom, whilst staying out of trouble.

However, education expert Dr Teresa Belton has suggested that children should be allowed to get bored “so they can develop their innate ability to be creative”. The suggestion is that being made to be constantly occupied and constantly stimulated could hamper their natural creativity and imagination. Perhaps in ensuring our children are always allowed to switch on the TV, the computer or the phone whenever they’re bored, we are inhibiting them from exploring their own thinking processes and stimulating their imaginations. Dr Belton suggests that children “need to have stand-and-stare time…assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them”.

With author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry both attesting to how boredom aided their creativity as children, perhaps we need to encourage our children to think up things they can do for themselves when they’re bored, without turning to a passive screen experience.

Whether it’s coming up with a new game to play in the garden, or figuring out how to bake their favourite foods, or simply just sitting down with a paper and some pencils to write or draw. With a little supervision from parents, to ensure they are safe and not getting their school shirts, the family pet or the living room wallpaper covered in felt-tip marks, our children may benefit from having nothing else to do to but to use their imagination and creativity.

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