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Boredom sparks kids' creativity. Gadgets squelch it.

Posting in Education

The next Picasso?

Kids' constant exposure to screens, gadgets and TVs dampens their creativity and deprives them of the boredom that sparks it.

So says educational expert Dr. Teresa Belton in an article on the BBC website, where she notes that creativity "involves being able to develop internal stimulus."

Belton, a senior researcher at the University of East Anglia, points out what we all know: That kids today spend more time looking at screens than ever, whether it's TV, a gadget, a phone or a computer.

That, she says, "tends to short circuit ... the development of creative capacity."

She adds that, "Children need to have stand-and-start time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them," and says that failure to get it can  even lead to destructive behavior like "smashing up bus shelters or taking cars out for joyrides."

Belton based her observations on interviews with a number of creative adults, including writers, artists and scientists, many of whom described a childhood of imagination triggered by nothing to do.

There's a deeper discussion than I can get into in this short blog post (feel free to weigh in below). To take the opposite view, children surely need screen exposure in a digital age. And boredom itself can lead to trouble. Not all bored kids will blossom into Picasso.

But there's a happy medium in there somewhere. It seems to me that kids are getting too much screen (and too much structured activity). That could be my inner Luddite talking, but as I've written before, I believe children - adults too - are digitally overdosing.

Got kids? Maybe it's time to turn the old phrase on its head: Bore them to life!

Photo from Frecklebox.com

Get addicted to this theme, on SmartPlanet:

— By on March 24, 2013, 6:46 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure