I can remember quite clearly being a child and telling my mum I was bored. Her response? Well, go outside and play or find something to do. At which point I am pretty sure I moaned back that there was nothing to do which illicited a laughing response from my mum. I don’t remember being bored often. I think I was the last generation growing up where parents felt safe to send us outside to play with little to no supervision – I certainly couldn’t imagine wanting to do that with Alyssa in years to come. However, whether its the development in technology or the fear now instilled in us as parents that something will happen to our children out there in the world, children are spending more and more time in front of a screen. Are we becoming lazy as parents or are we scared of allowing our children to be bored?!
New research has revealed that kids have been spending just 3 hours per day away from their screens, while only 31% of parents admitted to giving a bored child a digital device to keep them occupied.
Conducted by BIC® as part of its Young Artist Award, the study found that kids complain about being bored on average 122 times a month – that’s 1,500 times a year. With the words “I’m bored” being dreaded by 69% of parents. Fortunately I am not at the vocalising of the I’m bored stage yet… but I can see it happen. When she is, she asks for the TV to be put on. I don’t always give in but I am not going to deny I am a parent who will use the TV when I need it to help me get through the day.
However, we don’t always have it on and she only has use of a tablet once or twice a week for an hour. She is an outdoors child and whenever we can she is out there come rain or shine. I also think I’m lucky that my little one has a great imagination and will spend hours playing and making up stories with her princess dolls.
Parents worry that with all these Insta-perfect and Pinterest Mums around that they simply can’t compete and perhaps don’t even want to try. However, it doesn’t have to be a case of making a picture perfect set of cakes without a single piece of mess or creating clay sculptures together. What’s the matter with a good old bit of colouring?!
In response to the findings, renowned child education consultant Dr Martin Stephen said that “boredom is a brilliant platform from which children learn to use their imaginations …. It’s important that we continue to develop core skills such as drawing and writing.”
He continued, “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.” Do you know, my laptop wasn’t working the other day so I picked up a pen to make some notes and within 5 minutes my hand began to ache holding the pen which would normally take a few hours to happen. I then noticed that the little welt that was a permanent reminder of the hours of school work and homework that I went through, which had been on my finger for as long as I could remember was no longer there. I wondered, how long had it been since I had picked up a pen for longer than a few seconds to write a quick note?!
The statistics emerged in a study by BIC® KIDS as part of its Young Artist Award, which celebrates the creativity of children from across the country by taking children’s artwork beyond the fridge door and onto public billboards.
Parents are keen to see kids move away from digital distractions; with two-thirds (65 per cent) feeling guilty about the amount of screen time that their children have. Just 14 per cent of parents claim it’s natural for modern children to spend time with screens. I’ve already admitted I am one of the percentage that feel guilty for popping the TV on but I also think I am one of the ones who will hand my little one a set of crayons and paper, whack the playdough out when I’m in a crazy mood or bring her into the kitchen and teach her how to safely cut vegetables.
It isn’t always easy and I am as far from a Pinterest Mum as it’s possible to be, but I do agree with BIC Kids research – it is good for children to be bored. We were as children and we had to make our own fun without computers, games consoles, mobile phones and tablets. Whether it be going outside to jump in muddy puddles or sticking a sheet over some chairs and making a fort, let them be bored and let them find ways to entertain themselves…without technology. Save the TV escape for when there’s hidden chocolate you want to munch!