Boredom: The Spark of Creativity

Contributed by JC Boushh

With the incredible advances in technology kids today have a very short distance to go to be entertained. The internet, texting, and satellite TV have brought children into a world of constant stimulation and entertainment. Today’s children cannot tolerate solitude or boredom, and they seem to be in a constant state of alert. In essence parents, teachers, and caregivers have become cruise directors for kids, thereby stifling their inner creativity and imagination. Actually it is this lack of external stimulation that fosters creativity. Many times adults wish to plan every action a child takes during play time, rather than letting discovery and imagination grow out of the boredom.

Dr. Bruce Perry (2001) states; “This process is facilitated by solitude — the opportunity to be alone and without too many external stimuli. When a child cannot watch television, play video games, and is not participating in a scheduled "externally focused" activity, they will become more internally focused. Her imagination and creativity takes over. She will find and create "toys" from what is available — sticks become dolls, dolls become royalty, and these members of "royalty" become actors in the child's play — rocks become blocks, blocks become walls, and walls create castles”.

Many of our fondest childhood memories revolve around the lack of external stimulation, but instead fosters deep emotional memories of building a go cart; not buying a store made cart, building a playhouse or tree house with scraps of odds and ends, not buying a prefabricated plastic play house; and creating fanciful worlds with capes made of sheets and sticks for knightly weapons. When we remove the external stimulation from children’s play we force them to create, imagine, and explore.

When we attempt to plan play we deprive children of experiences. Hara Estroff Marano, Editor Psychology Today calls this lack of experiences experience-deficit disorder.

Current research in brain development has shown us that television, electronic gaming, internet access, and cellular phones have had a profound impact on children’s free-play time, and the influences of technological enhanced playgrounds may have an equally profound impact on children’s play patterns, creativity, and problem solving skills. Experience and creativity may actually come from the lack of external stimulation in playgrounds and during recess, and boredom may actually make smarter brains.