There are a number of tried and true sayings about boredom: bored to tears, bored silly, bored stiff, and, of course, bored to death.
And social media and video games are not a cure.
To be fair, boredom isn’t always bad, forcing youth who have grown tired of some games to reach deeper into the creative side of the brain to develop new activities to fill the gap.
It is a way of life for most people. Consider it down time, when being bored is exactly the escape an individual seeks.
But there is a difference between such a case and those who suffer from boredom on a regular basis. Continuing research indicates many negative side effects to boredom.
As children approach adolescence they grow bored with activities that once captivated their imaginations and they begin looking for ways to satisfy their need for excitement.
Those prone to boredom may be susceptible to many potential ailments, including depression, over-eating, anger issues, addiction to gambling, drugs, or alcohol and an earlier death.
Can someone then be “bored to death?”
Well, not on the surface. It’s doubtful anyone’s died watching a blade of grass grow, but the possibility for negative life choices is real and society is seeing the problems associated with youth becoming bored.
Experimenting with alcohol and opioids is certainly a possibility. In recent years, boredom was identified by Lake Havasu City youths as the second most common reason for trying opioids or alcohol, ranking just behind “wanting to have fun.”
It’s not a big leap when one considers the murder of an individual in Duncan, Oklahoma in 2013. One of the three boys arrested in the case told police they were bored and committed the act for “the fun of it.”
In a story by Anna Gosline in The Sciences, she quoted McWelling Todman at the New School for Social Research in New York City: “In one as-yet unpublished study of 156 addicts ranging in age from 24 to 68 at a methadone clinic, the subjects’ reported levels of boredom were the only reliable factor that predicted whether they would stay on course.”
Boredom is not a well-researched area and there is not yet an agreed upon way to define boredom.
But those looking into boredom know it can be a problem, especially for youth growing up in today’s fast-paced, quick-reward, technologically based society.
Television, movies, the Internet, and video games may appear to fill the boredom void, but in reality it has raised boredom to a new level, making highly bored youths more susceptible to experimenting with activities such as drugs and alcohol.
In the same Gosline article, she quoted John Eastwood, a clinical psychologist at York University in Toronto: “I think there is something about our modern experience of sensory overload where there is not the chance and ability to figure out your interests and passions.”
But is there a cure for boredom.
The first step is for parents to notice changes in behavior such as restlessness and irritability, at which time the youths may begin spending long periods of time camped out in front of a computer playing games.
Parents can’t dismiss boredom. Instead, engage it.
Activities such as exercising, networking with interesting people, and doing something they find fun is a starting point. Find what the children are most passionate about and fan the flames of their interests.
Problems ignored will simply fester. Find their favorite hobbies, sports, or activities and keep them engaged.
If you didn’t know, now you do.