Photo by Amanda Sicard – Flickr-Creative Commons
Post by Rain San Martin
Today young children and teens have most of their free-time either booked with extracurricular obligations or they fill up the silence with digital entertainment. The article Dear Kids: It’s OK to Be Bored states: “Being bored is like sitting in front of a blank canvas. Boredom is infinite possibility. You are the captain of your own ship and before you lies an expanse of dark blue ocean and clear skies.”
When a child says they are bored there may be a temptation to pull out the gaming devices or sign them up for more activities. Yet this unscheduled time is vital soil for cultivating the imagination and manifesting dreams. When their boredom is numbed by the painkillers of continual scheduled activities or entertainment they can never truly awaken the world of possibilities. In the book iWoz, Steve Wozniak who invented the first Apple computer explains that he learned about electronics by tinkering as a child in his free time. The same can be said for many great inventors, software developers or musicians. When kids have unscheduled time and the TV’s and video games are turned off, a window of opportunity has been opened. Kids or teens suddenly may be motivated to practice their guitar, take apart an old cell phone, or learn coding to make a video game of their own. Yet they will need you to shine a light on these possibilities.
Not all “screen time” is created equal.
Allow for the use of developer software without it cutting into your child’s daily screen time. Otherwise they may always prefer to veg-out over creating content and learning new skills. Encourage the use of photo editing software, video editing software, 3D animation software, and of course a word editor for writing books. “Mom can I watch another episode of (fill in the blank) “, they ask? You respond, “No but you can use Paint on the computer if you like? We can even email it to Grandma. Or perhaps your teen is upset about having to turn off the their video game. You can offer they explore online coding classes or learn how to create 3D animation with Blender (open source / free) by following some tutorials on YouTube.
Helpful tools to have on hand:
- Drawing pencils
- Art paper
- Science kits
- Instructional books
- Sewing tools
- Drums / musical instruments
Software or hardware developer tools:
- Paint or Photoshop (Gimp is free)
- Video editing software
- Online coding classes, usually free
- Digital camera (may use phone)
- Video camera (may use phone)
- Digital audio recorder / audio editor
- Word Editor such as Microsoft word
Equip them with tools, reading materials and possibly instructional videos. Laying down in the grass practicing the art of doing nothing should also be applauded. When you allow kids to have large chunks of unscheduled time without the hum of gaming devices, you create space for magic.
For more on this subject read my article 5 Ways to Unleash the Genius of Your Child.