Being "bored" helps children develop their imagination and develop problem-solving skills.
Healthy play away from screens is essential for children's development.
“Mom, I’m bo - o - red!”
Many parents jump into action, feeling it’s important to entertain and play with their children so they won’t be bored. And, the children are often entertained with screens, TV, movies, videos, pads, phones, games and computers.
Screen use is damaging to brains (children AND adults) and prevents imagination and pondering. Imagining and pondering are kinds of thinking that have quite the opposite effect to screen use.
These healthful "problem-solving" thinking patterns help the brain develop in ways that teach your child to prioritize, organize, cope and feel empathy and compassion for others. They also help your child learn, perform better, reduce risk of addictions, and have better relationships throughout life.
Studies show screen use is associated with structural and functional damage to brain regions involving emotions, attention, decision-making and thought control. (Lin & Zhou et al, 2012.)
Psychologists and physicians explain sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep and a hyper-aroused nervous system are symptoms of brain damage from electronic screens.
Dr. Victoria Dunckley’s book, Reset Your Child’s Brain, explains the child’s brain damage, symptoms and dysfunction caused by screen use. She explains the children are more impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention. Dr. Dunckley reports on studies that explain the brain damage includes atrophy (loss) of both the brain's gray matter and white matter.
Screen use thus damages both brain function and brain structure (anatomy).
We used to think of computers as educational for our children, so it became important for children to have computer access at home and at school. Now we are realizing we were wrong about computer access.
Limit screen time. Watching TV, playing video games and spending time on the computer diminishes your child’s imagination by not letting them imagine worlds and outcomes of their own. Screen time also encourages children to be passive and uninvolved, which is unhealthy for mind and body. Better to be outside climbing trees, finding cloud shapes, running about…
Remember, it’s important for your mind to wander, to ponder. The wandering mind comes up with imaginative ideas and solutions.
Through boredom you find your curiosity, persistence, playfulness, and you develop hobbies that you like. Your brain needs you to spend time watching the world go by - people, cars, animals, and clouds.
Can you imagine sitting at the soccer game without looking at your phone? Or waiting in the pick-up line for your children at school? Or at work without looking at your phone all day?
Point is, if you go through your day and don’t look at your phone when you are waiting - for anything or anyone - you will be creating a more resilient, healthy, thicker brain, and enjoying your pondering.
Let your children be bored! Enjoy them developing in broader, amazing ways! Can you imagine? They will be smarter, more creative, more buoyant, happier, more quick to recover, stronger than ever, more interested in their world, nicer, more compassionate, more aware, more athletic, more fun to be around.
Let’s be bored
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
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© 2019 Dr Chris Baker