In Praise of Boredom


I may just be a crusty old fart . . . OK, I am . . . but I get disturbed by the number of handheld video games I see as I go through my day. And not just in the hands of teens. Kids as young as three or four years old carry these things and sit head down, eyes glazed twiddling their thumbs on these machines.

I’m not a Luddite (really. . . I’m not). I have nothing against a vid game once in a while, but there seems to be some sort of fear that if our children aren’t entertained constantly there may be terrible consequences; we might have to have a discussion with them. There has to be a TV in every room and one for the pocket, right?

What happens when a child is entertained all the time by someone who’s not really there? How does that child develop the skills she needs to deal with people: empathy, trust, social skills . . . even the idea of appropriate eye contact and looking up to acknowledge that there’s another human being in the room with you? The technology isolates these kids–it’s a jail cell.

Maybe it’s worse. They don’t the opportunity even to be alone with themselves, to develop an internal life. You need time alone, time to be bored in order to simply think, to imagine, to play something without a script, to rehearse who you will become.

Without boredom, without time to play spontaneously–with no one telling you how and showing you what you should be doing–you become someone who only colors inside the lines; you become restricted.

You have to have time alone to daydream.



One Response to “In Praise of Boredom”

  1. 1 Karen

    Amen, Sir. Some of the most miserable kids I know are constantly buried behind their handheld games. I have other friends who really love the things and use them more reasonably (I’ll admit, there is a generation thing here–the older the person is, the more reasonable the level of use. I don’t know if this is maturity, or those who have had the device their whole live v. those who haven’t. Honestly, I can’t really stand the things–I’m more of a book person. I do admit, I like audio books though. They’re wonderful for exercising 🙂

    Eye contact is odd. Appropriate eye contact is not a skill I’ve managed to acquire, and, as I’ve said above, I’ve never been a gamer. It is a level of connect with which my generation (and those younger) are uncomfortable.

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