Stimulation from readily available video games, tablets, smart phones and TV means children rarely find themselves with nothing to do.
Dr Teresa Belton, neurologist and an expert in the impact of emotions on learning and behaviour, believes in modern society we’ve developed the notion that children need to be constantly active and occupied, when really it’s the time spent alone with ‘nothing’ to do that gets their creative juices flowing.
With few external distractions, they are forced to search inwardly for stimulation.
Talking to author Meera Syal, Dr Benton came to the conclusion that creativity stems from boredom. Syal explained how as a child growing up in a small mining community, she spent much of her time time by herself writing diary entries, poems, stories, and observations about the world. She attributes these early experiences to becoming an author later in life and believes solitude nurtured her creativity.
Dr Benton, who has conducted studies on the impact of television and video on children’s writing, thinks young people who fail to develop the ability to entertain themselves often turn to crime: “Some young people who do not have the interior resources or the responses to deal with that boredom creatively then sometimes end up smashing up bus shelters or taking cars out for a joyride,” she explained.
She believes the TV/computer/phone screen ‘short-circuits’ the development of creativity, and stems the flow of imagination.
Perhaps sometimes it is worth switching off the modem, banning the TV and letting children occupy themselves. Encouraging them to go outdoors or to find their own private spaces can also help fuel their imaginations.
To find out how counselling can help young people with behavioural problems, please visit our Child Related Issues page.
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