Boredom could be good for children
It was Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote “Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain”. Although the musings of the German philosopher will certainly be lost on the millions of schoolchildren over the Easter holiday, their parents can find comfort in his words as they struggle to keep their kids entertained for a fortnight.
An academic has set out to prove that boredom – far from being a bad thing – is a naturally occurring emotion that should not be suppressed. Dr Richard Ralley, a psychology lecturer at Edge Hill College in Ormskirk, Lancashire, has embarked on a study of boredom.
He said: “Boredom can be a good thing. In psychology we think of emotions as being functional. Fear, anger and jealousy all serve a purpose but they’re painted in a bad light even though they exist for a reason. It’s the same with boredom, which also has a bad name.
“We get bored because we get fed up when we have nothing to do and feel the need to be productive. We feel bad when we’re not productive and that’s what boredom is associated with.
“Boredom is something, it’s not just switching off. It can be useful. When there’s nothing rewarding going on we conserve energy, so that when we want to re-engage we can. There’s a balance between doing something that’s rewarding and doing something that’s rewarding but not being happy about doing it.
“It may be better to leave children to their own devices and let them recover from their last term at school.”
Dr Ralley, 35, thought of the study, titled Boredom, in 1999 but has only recently started collecting case studies. To date, he has received information from more than 300 young adults who have written about boredom. He hopes to present his findings in the summer. “Come the holidays, parents overcompensate for kids having so much free time by overwhelming them with activities.
“Instead get them involved with something you’re doing. You can manipulate boredom in a way that can get them to do something challenging. Boredom is natural, so let’s deal with it.” Autor: Riazat Butt