We’ve all felt the feeling of boredom. For some of us it might have been longer ago than others. Many of us have busy and full lives these days, but some children (and some adults) are more prone to experiencing boredom.
While it is normal to feel bored from time to time, a low tolerance for the feeling of boredom has been associated with a number of concerning outcomes including depression and hostile aggression. Those who are boredom prone are also more likely to procrastinate, feel insecure and more likely value the end product of activity (eg payment for work) rather than extract joy and meaning from the activity itself. Boredom has also been cited as a factor in studies of substance use, internet addiction, dropping out of school and marital issues.
I’m sure if you have ever played a computer game or console game you know that they can be great fun and a handy distraction. Like anything fun in the history of humankind, though, there is the potential for life to get out of balance if too much of our time is dedicated to one source of enjoyment. Until they are old enough to curb urges and delay gratification (jobs linked to the brain’s cortex), children need parents to act as their cortex. Until children fully develop a cortex of their own they need limits set on their exposure to all things that might compete with living a happy and healthy life – they need some limits on gaming time.
In all of the years I have been in clinical and forensic practice with young people, I have never seen a young offender who has been convicted of a violent crime solely because they played too many computer or console games. Child development is much more complex than that! However there is perhaps a more frequent or common concerning trend and that is where gaming starts to interrupt a happy, healthy and social life for the individual or their family.