We have all been there haven’t we, as soon as the ‘I’m bored’ cries begin we instinctively pop the TV on or put YouTube on the tablet for them. I bet most of us are guilty of this, but by doing this, by trying to stop the boredom, are we actually suppressing our children’s imaginations? Is being bored really such a bad thing for our children?
A study conducted by BIC® as part of its Young Artist Award found that 69% of the 1000 parents asked, dreaded their children saying ‘I’m bored’ which on average is said a whopping 122 times a month, that’s 1500 a year! Research also revealed that children have been spending just 3 hours away from their screens per day, as a mum of a teenage boy I can very much believe this. I spent all summer encouraging him to try and get outside with his friends to no avail, apparently going out is too boring to them. When I was younger me and my friends were outside pretty much from the moment we got up until it was time for bed.
In response to the research findings, renowned child education consultant Dr Martin Stephen said that “boredom is a brilliant platform from which children learn to use their imaginations…It is important that we continue to develop core skills such as drawing and writing. Drawing and writing with a pen aren’t old fashioned and out-dated – they’re proved state-of-the-art and affordable boosters to the child’s body and brain: the ultimate fertiliser for the imagination.”
Experts believe we should be doing more to encourage boredom in our children and I have to say I agree. I grew up in a fairly strict household, watching TV was very limited, I would be allowed maybe an hour at most. Instead I was encouraged to play outside, colour or read. As an only child I had to rely on my imagination quite a lot, I used to love writing stories, drawing and making up games to play. As I now make a living from writing, I have to say I’m very grateful for all those times I was allowed to get bored.
65% of the parents interviewed for the study felt guilty about the amount of screen time their children have. I have to admit, since having Poppy the amount of TV Ava watches has definitely increased. When you have 2 little ones a distraction for the older one is a godsend however I have also noticed a negative change in Ava’s behaviour since she has been allowed to watch more. She became naughtier and seemed unable to occupy herself when the TV wasn’t on. This is the reason I have gone back to limiting screen time for her. Ava thrives off getting creative, she loves making things and will happily sit drawing and colouring, her attitude is so much better and her ability to play alone is a great help when I need to focus on her baby sister.
My go to boredom busters aka imagination boosters
- Drawing/Painting/Creating with playdoh
- Doing puzzles
- Going out for a walk
- Singing and dancing
- I like to rotate the toys Ava plays with too and incorporate some household objects to allow her to use her imagination. It’s amazing what suddenly becomes a bridge or a slide.
BIC® have been encouraging children all over the country to get creative in a competition to have their artwork put up onto public billboards. Bic’s UK and Ireland product manager Rebacca Huda says “It’s challenging to consider boredom as a positive thing, but I think we’re all aware that taking a bit of time away from constant noise and activity, has a positive effect. It’s good to be able to let the mind wander and through our competition, we’ve seen that kids in the UK have amazing imaginations”
The competition has received hundreds of entries for 5-11 year old children from across the UK and Republic of Ireland for BIC® KIDS 2018 Young Artist Award, with the regional finalists being put forward to a public vote which will crown the 2018 winner.
This post is in no way judging anyone for their use of screen time, we all parent in a way that is best for our families. I would be interested to know if you agreed with this post however? Do you feel guilty about the amount of screen time your child has?