Is boredom important for kids' development?

I was listening to a podcast the other day and someone implied that without boredom and rainy days where you had nothing else to do that the Beatles may never have formed because kids wouldn’t take the time to learn how to play instruments. Also boredom is how kids learn to create their own fun, rather than just be entertained by Angry Birds etc.

Or is the future (where our kids will be living) going to be a place of zero boredom? Always entertained, always stimulated by external sources and that’s OK because that’s how they will find their creative niche or expertise.

I’m not sure what my role should be as a father in regard to limiting screen time. And I want to discuss with my wife so we are acting as a team on this. But I don’t know where I stand, and I have to find that out first.

This here is the nub of confusion. Those things will always be available. Whether they’ll always be used is what the kids will be deciding on. And so for you, the decision now is how, and how much, to encourage using this stuff with judgment, not just popping the pills continuously because they’re laying on the table.

This may sound like hairsplitting, but it’s the difference between assuming the default is mindless unbridled consumption, or simple indifference / lack of interest.

Pills yes, it’s the dopamine hit in games that also worries me.

The future? TV’s been around for nearly a century, cable TV and home video consoles for almost 50 years. Is that any different from Angry Birds and Minecraft?

Not so much “boredom” and unstructured free time. Childhood shouldn’t (IMO) be a career with every moment scheduled and everything aimed at some definition of success. Kids (and arguably, so do adults) need some time to just “do nothing”, daydream, think, or choose themselves what to do, be spontaneous, and so on.

I think it is. When I was a kid TV content happened on its own schedule. There were long periods of time when there was noting fun to watch on TV. Golf, news, or bad tv shows. It was easy to disengage with the TV and make my own fun. Is that still a useful ability? That’s what I am asking.

I’m not sure about quote unquote boredom per se, but I think one of the absolute best things in the world you can do for your kids is to teach them to love to read. Whether it’s classic literature, or Captain Underpants, as long as they’re reading.

That’s a real concern, and I’ve seen it plausibly suggested as a big part of the reason for the high incidence of depression nowadays.

For some reason the old (bad) proverb comes to mind, “The Devil will find work for idle hands” implying that bored kids might act out in destructive ways, or discover sex. Well, at least no more idle hands.

But Captain Underpants is classic literature.

Weather permitting, I boot the grandkids outdoors.
Of course our screen time isn’t 100% all the time. There’s none today because of stormy weather. TV is bumpy. Internet is sketchy.
They were begging for my hotspot and I made them go play Lego.

It’s all subjective, I think. Each child is different.
If your kid is doing nothing but playing games online I’d say limit it. Promote something else.

The grandsons are loving reading online. I told mid-Dau she should purchase paper books and I got a ‘look’

It’s an interesting question.

I don’'t think it’s a question of boredom, dopamine high or some such. I think it comes down to consuming vs. producing. Will creativity and fantasy atrophy when a person always passively consumes stimuli? I think so, but don’t have any basis for that assumption.

I mean, you can be bored when producing and excited when consuming. But I think being excited when producing will result in a more agile mind. And being bored when consuming will result in lethargy.

Yes. When I was a kid the TV was small and didn’t draw you in as much, and there was very limited programming, even in NY which had relatively a lot of it. And it was uninvolving compared to a game. You could tune out and think your own thoughts during commercials.
None of my grandkids watch any TV on a regular basis, and screen time is strictly limited to the weekends. They read and play instead. It has worked out well.

Why should she purchase paper books? I mean, what’s the objective benefit to paper books over reading on a screen? Is it keeping the kid off the device or the screen light possibly interfering with sleep or something else?

I think boredom stimulates the imagination and makes one more creative. I was an only child so I dealt with plenty of boredom as a kid. Thankfully, I loved to read and write, and I played a musical instrument, so that’s how I spent my time when boredom set in, by creating things. I grew up to become a professional musician and freelance writer. Childhood boredom turned into a career that I adore. If my face had been glued to a smartphone all the time, maybe not.

Being able to tolerate boredom without acting out and raising hell is highly important for development, but is taught poorly by parents, judging from average child behavior in restaurants.

“Shush, I’m on the phone. Go play somewhere else.”

I just appreciate paper books.
To each his own, tho’.

Oh, preference is fine. I just don’t get why you suggest it to someone else. It’s like if my hypothetical grandkids liked Italian sausage on their pizza, I wouldn’t say “you should get them to try bacon pizza” - I mean, why do I care if they like a different kind of pizza than me? Heck, at least with pizza, I could steal theirs if they ate my kind. I get no benefit from them reading paper books instead of online or ebooks or whatnot.

I didn’t make a big deal about it. I just like to see their reactions. And hear the “Oh, Ma!”
Of course the kids reading anything is a good thing.

This. I think that having some time for doing nothing in particular is important. That’s how you discover what’s inside your own head; and sometimes what’s outside of it.