On a recent visit to the hardware store, our boys (11 & 13) grabbed a bunch of varying sized cardboard boxes for some creative projects they wanted to make. This is something they’ve done since they were young.
Winter sport finished for the year and a rainy Sydney weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to start those creative projects, but instead, all three of our kids sat around on their devices watching other people doing creative stuff.
Consequently, the boxes sat around the house (untouched) for a few weeks until eventually, they ended up in the recycling bin.
Are kids are trading in their creativity for being ‘entertained’?
To explore this issue, Is Your Smartphone Killing Your Creativity? talks about the necessary link between boredom and creativity. The author says that when we fill every gap in our day with electronic stimuli, we leave no room for daydreaming.
Both boredom and daydreaming are necessary for creativity because, “creativity is the brain’s response to an unpleasant situation, and that’s where the best ideas are born.”
Parents have a role to play in helping our kids avoid this ‘Tech addiction’ because as Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology says, “Teens are not as far along in their brain development in terms of self-control”.
So how do we encourage creativity in our kids?
I think most of us recognise we’re not going to get our teens to lay down their smartphones and sit under a tree playing marbles. Technology is here to stay, so how do we harness it? How do we encourage our kids to be creators rather than just consumers of other people’s creativity?
A great Wired article addresses this issue and shares some ideas for kids to use their technology as a tool for creativity. For example, there are apps available for making stop motion videos; what about using a video camera or smartphone to interview an older relative to learn about life in the ‘olden days’.
Whilst the Wired article has some great suggestions, try to avoid directing your children i.e. here’s a list of creative ideas for you to do. Instead, be intentional about restricting time on their devices (including the TV) to allow for a bit of boredom and daydreaming. Who knows where that might lead.