Sign up for our newsletter ⟩
News |

Academic claims Finnish kids and adults don't know how to be bored

Do you pull your phone out when waiting for the elevator? Kids—and adults—can't handle a moment of boredom, and that's a problem, says one education expert.

Image: Pixabay

No one wants to be bored even though moments without distraction could help us solve problems and boost creativity. Finnish schools are increasingly over-stimulating kids with technology instead of helping them to become mindfully aware, says a new book on boredom, adding to a growing body of literature imploring us to slow down.

People don't want to be bored at all anymore and we are all too anxious to fill up silence, says Juha T. Hakala, a University of Jyväskylä education professor, whose new book Tylsyyden ylistys loosely translated as An Ode to Boredom.

He wants adolescents to learn that boredom is a good, natural state and argues that life does not play out in the peaks but in the day-to-day and that's something we have to accept.

Growing into boredom?

Finland is in the midst of educating a generation of people allergic to boredom, with kids unable to absorb information unless it’s packaged in an over-stimulating way, Hakala claims.

He asks how these children will later on manage mundane tasks in worklife, such as analysing processes or working with bureaucracy, and says he fears professionals will increasingly lose concentration and the ability to dig into subjects deeply.

Story continues after photo

Nainen istuu puhelin kädessään.
Young people in the west spend almost half of their waking hours in front of a screen. Image: Niko Mannonen / Yle

Hakala criticises recent efforts to inject tablet computers into kindergartens and elementary schools, pointing out that kids have more than enough exposure to these devices at home.

In his book, Hakala notes that young people in the west today spend 40 percent of their time in front of a screen.

"Mobile devices have become a quick fix for boredom—providing a range of emotional experiences," he explains, adding that he himself is no stranger to pulling a phone out of his pocket to check email or WhatsApp in a short supermarket queue.

Story continues after photo

Imhinen meren rannalla.
Nobel literature prize laureate Joseph Brodsky said "when hit by boredom, let yourself be crushed by it; submerge, hit bottom." Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Our brains don’t switch off when we’re bored, it gives us time to process our own stuff and examine things in our daily lives from different angles. 

Hakala maintains that experiencing boredom is a window into one’s true self and asks why the school system doesn’t help young people deal with boredom, instead of trying to stimulate them as much as possible.

Latest in: News


Our picks