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Is dealing with boredom a vanishing art?


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I was reading a thread on another board about how to entertain kids during a long car trip, and thought back to my own childhood. I remember taking along books to read, but for the most part, I was left up to my own (non-electronic) devices to entertain myself. I spent a great deal of my childhood being bored, lol. Some of the most imaginative times I ever had were when there was "nothing to do."

 

Will kids of the 21st century know that experience? Are they (and we) losing the ability to either entertain ourselves or --gasp--deal with boredom without the use of batteries?

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One day last week we had a long day in the car planned. I asked my dd to grab a book and she, "No thanks, I'm taking my mind." :D

 

It does seem a lot of kids today don't like to be "bored" and want to be plugged in all the time. I've met a lot that don't though.

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One day last week we had a long day in the car planned. I asked my dd to grab a book and she, "No thanks, I'm taking my mind." :D

 

It does seem a lot of kids today don't like to be "bored" and want to be plugged in all the time. I've met a lot that don't though.

 

She sounds like my kind of kid!

 

I've noticed that you hardly ever see anyone just sitting in a waiting room any more. Everyone is texting or plugged into some kind of device.

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I was reading a thread on another board about how to entertain kids during a long car trip, and thought back to my own childhood. I remember taking along books to read, but for the most part, I was left up to my own (non-electronic) devices to entertain myself. I spent a great deal of my childhood being bored, lol. Some of the most imaginative times I ever had were when there was "nothing to do."

 

Will kids of the 21st century know that experience? Are they (and we) losing the ability to either entertain ourselves or --gasp--deal with boredom without the use of batteries?

 

Constant stimulation has become the norm for many people. It has negative repercussions which, in my personal experience, most people could not care less about. Many kids I know cannot handle being alone or being in a quiet place. They literally require what I would characterize as chaos in order to function. They need stimulation and entertainment.

 

Maybe their brains are being wired that way given exposure to so much media. They are often offered this in lieu of adult interaction from a young age. Adults are simply too busy to interact with and engage them, so various media are used as a surrogate. At least the kids of my generation who were ignored were sent outdoors to play and/or left to their own imagination. It certainly was better than what happens today.

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I remember being in a car for 11 hours going to grandma's. I couldn't, and still can't, read in the car without getting viciously sick. So there was truly nothing to do but stare out the window. No, I don't regret buying the portable disc player for our move across the country. No, I don't regret letting dd play with her DS in the car when we drive 5 hours round trip to the big city.

 

Dd is very rarely bored even though most of her time is spent right here with only me in the house with her. She has a good imagination.

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:iagree: with everyone in waiting rooms being plugged into *something.*

 

On Tuesday, DH had surgery and we came along since he wanted to know someone would be there waiting for him afterward. We brought school books with us, notebooks, and each child had a toy backpack. None of them brought any electronics. I did have to shut the door to the waiting room b/c my kids were being kind of loud :tongue_smilie:

 

About an hour before we left for the day, a woman and her 6 year old (my guess) daughter come in. The mom sits down, unpacks her laptop and starts surfing. I assume surfing because I didn't hear any typing. The daughter got bored shortly after they arrived (probably b/c mom was not even looking UP from her laptop :glare: yet wanted her to stay next to her), so mom hauls out a portable DVD player for daughter to watch. I was even more disappointed to see the little girl was watching "Twilight." She may have seen it a dozen times, but I was just surprised to see her watching what I consider a teen movie.

 

Maybe I was bummed that the mom didn't say "go play with those other [my] kids." My daughters were excited to see another child after a day full of adults passing through the waiting area. I got the idea that mom would rather have her child watching a movie than playing with strangers. :001_huh: Of course after seeing how rudely the mom treated the nurses, maybe it's better I didn't get involved with them!

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I remember being in a car for 11 hours going to grandma's. I couldn't, and still can't, read in the car without getting viciously sick. So there was truly nothing to do but stare out the window. No, I don't regret buying the portable disc player for our move across the country. No, I don't regret letting dd play with her DS in the car when we drive 5 hours round trip to the big city.

 

Dd is very rarely bored even though most of her time is spent right here with only me in the house with her. She has a good imagination.

 

:iagree: I have such terrible memories of family vacations when I was little. My dad smoked so he kept the window rolled down much of the time. My brother and I would fight over which of us had to sit behind him because the one in the line of fire would wind up hit with spit, gum and the occasional live cigarette butt. No way to read because I would wind up vomiting. The only thing to do was pick at my brother and he back at me. By the time we go where we were going, my brother and I hated each other, my dad hated us both and my mom was silently plotting to run away from home.

 

The kids and I have done multiple cross country roadtrips due to moves and family visits over the past 13 years. I much prefer traveling with DVD's, videogames and audiobooks. Instead of being a necessary evil, our last few car rides are mostly a source of happy memories.

 

Barb

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I've noticed that you hardly ever see anyone just sitting in a waiting room any more. Everyone is texting or plugged into some kind of device.

 

Because there are ways of passing the time that didn't exist just a few years ago. Why would anyone sit and stare in a waiting room when they could be listening to music or an audiobook, texting a friend, or playing a game? It's unhealthy to stay plugged in for hours a day, I agree. But are we seriously judging people for how they pass time waiting? I would rather sit in a waiting room next to kids who are plugged in and happy than kids who are visiting with one another and being "kind of loud" in a doctor's office.

 

Barb

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a couple years ago when teenage niece and nephew were visiting, they were bored all the time. All they ever did was play with the nintendo ds, playstation, texting/ phone calls, and playing on the computer. And they complained about being bored. When ever I would offer suggestions that involved them actually doing something, they'd look at my like I'd grown a second head, then go text a friend.

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Because there are ways of passing the time that didn't exist just a few years ago. Why would anyone sit and stare in a waiting room when they could be listening to music or an audiobook, texting a friend, or playing a game? It's unhealthy to stay plugged in for hours a day, I agree. But are we seriously judging people for how they pass time waiting? I would rather sit in a waiting room next to kids who are plugged in and happy than kids who are visiting with one another and being "kind of loud" in a doctor's office.

 

Barb

 

I don't think I'm judging them. I don't think less of anyone for doing it. Heck, I let my kids play with my brand-new iPad just the other day, while we were waiting at my son's therapy! I'm just navel-gazing and wondering if we are becoming entirely reliant on our electronics.

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She sounds like my kind of kid!

 

I've noticed that you hardly ever see anyone just sitting in a waiting room any more. Everyone is texting or plugged into some kind of device.

I thought of a question for you.

 

What is the difference between reading boring magazines that several people with a variety of illness have handled before you and reading on a Kindle or texting your bestie?

 

If I had the choice (and I only recently have) I'd go for my phone with its kindle app every time. I'd use the time to check email, make shopping lists and/or do research on an number of topics.

 

I don't think there is anything wrong with being bored, but why should one be bored if one can be productive?

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I don't think I'm judging them. I don't think less of anyone for doing it. Heck, I let my kids play with my brand-new iPad just the other day, while we were waiting at my son's therapy! I'm just navel-gazing and wondering if we are becoming entirely reliant on our electronics.

 

I have not construed anything you said as judgmental, more just ponderings about our reliance on electronic devices. :001_smile: Questioning cultural mores will not make you popular. ;)

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When I was late elementary school age, a very wise woman told me that smart people were never bored. I never complained to her about it again. :) I don't think my kids have that word in their vocabulary yet. I'd love to see how long I can make that last.

 

 

I had a teacher that liked to say, "show me a bored person and I'll show you a boring person."

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I don't think I'm judging them. I don't think less of anyone for doing it. Heck, I let my kids play with my brand-new iPad just the other day, while we were waiting at my son's therapy! I'm just navel-gazing and wondering if we are becoming entirely reliant on our electronics.

 

I'm sorry, maybe I'm having a grouchy day. This thread just looked like it was heading down the us vs. them comparison path. I agree that as a culture we are growing more reliant on our electronics. But I disagree that what we do on car trips or in waiting rooms are a good indication of the degree of that reliance. I would think keeping ourselves quiet and productive in those cases would be seen in a positive light by anyone.

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I had a teacher that liked to say, "show me a bored person and I'll show you a boring person."

 

:iagree:Honestly, unless you've read every.single.book in the whole.wide.world, how bored could you be?

 

Sometimes I get in a funk and don't want to read any of my old stand-by genres but a little wandering around among the bookshelves does the trick.

 

W/o a book, say driving, I've lived lives and adventures that I'd die b/f sharing with most ppl.

 

But sometimes I want to watch a movie and sometimes I want to log on here and waste time with you guys.

 

I think too much tech (tv, movies, texting, blogging, gaming, et c) rots the old brain. I also think that about romance novels, though. sorry;)

 

So, I love my brain and I'm glad I've got it. I'm glad I don't waste it on too much tech but I'm glad to have some tech-y interludes from time to time.

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Parrothead, you have a valid point about the germs, as well as the possibility of being productive with research and such.

 

Let me see if I can offer an example from my RL. My son is autistic and severely speech-delayed (nonverbal). Every week, he goes for therapy at a center designed to meet a wide variety of needs for disabled kids. There are at least 15-20 parents in the waiting area at any given time. It would seem like a perfect opportunity to connect with other parents, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Almost every single person is using a laptop, texting, or playing games on a DS. I've embarrassed myself more than once because I thought someone was talking to me, and I responded, only to discover that they were using a Bluetooth. :blushing:

 

Sure, there are other ways to connect with parents, and I use them. But I do lament the apparent loss of manners and a feeling of connectedness with fellow human beings that I see.

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Perhaps those are two separate issues: the loss of manners and relating to other humans in your environment and being able to be bored. Maybe I'm just lumping them together because of the common element of electronic devices.

 

I certainly do not want to get into some sort of smug, "Look at those awful parents/kids/people! I am oh-so-superior to them!" I learned a long time ago in my parenting career to NEVER do that. It will always come back to bite me you know where. :)

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Hmm.. 2 thoughts.

 

1. I hate car trips with a passion. I attribute it to long car rides when I was young and the only entertainment seen to be had was my sister amusing herself with harrassing me. We do one car trip per year, from Georgia to Wisconsin. ONE and I refuse anymore than that unless it's a medical emergency.

 

2. Why should we return to the days of boredom? I doubt technology will stop. Our world is progressing all the time. Our children and their children won't be living in the world that I did when I was growing up, and I didn't live in the world that my mom grew up in. Thank heavens!!!!

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Because there are ways of passing the time that didn't exist just a few years ago. Why would anyone sit and stare in a waiting room when they could be listening to music or an audiobook, texting a friend, or playing a game? It's unhealthy to stay plugged in for hours a day, I agree. But are we seriously judging people for how they pass time waiting? I would rather sit in a waiting room next to kids who are plugged in and happy than kids who are visiting with one another and being "kind of loud" in a doctor's office.

 

Barb

 

:iagree:

 

Folks probably see me and my boys in waiting rooms and assume, because we have iPods in our hands, that we're wasting time with computer related games and such, but we're actually reading.

But if I chose to watch a movie instead? Maybe it's because I know I'll have 20 or 30 minutes to watch the end of a movie that I've been trying to finish for a week.

Maybe I am playing a game. Hunter and I love to pass the iPod back and forth playing Wurdle.

None of this means that we never spend time daydreaming or being bored.

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There are at least 15-20 parents in the waiting area at any given time. It would seem like a perfect opportunity to connect with other parents, wouldn't it?

 

Is this something you and your parents did when you were a kid? I don't ever remember sitting and talking to other people in a waiting room. It's just not something that would ever occur to me. I feel like doctor's offices are private affairs and I'd feel like someone was intruding on my personal space if they struck up a casual conversation with me. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile, but I don't talk to them even if we're all sitting there twiddling our thumbs.

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There are at least 15-20 parents in the waiting area at any given time. It would seem like a perfect opportunity to connect with other parents, wouldn't it?

 

Oh, eek. The introvert in me worries about situations like this. I'd bury myself in a book every single time before 'connecting' with strangers in a waiting area.

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Perhaps those are two separate issues: the loss of manners and relating to other humans in your environment and being able to be bored. Maybe I'm just lumping them together because of the common element of electronic devices.

 

Yes, I do think you have something there. Since the title of the post refers to dealing with boredom, I was confused that many seemed to feel electronic devices aren't an appropriate way to deal with boredom in places like a waiting room or moving car. I do agree that it shows lack of manners to use electronic devices in a situation where interaction is expected, for example, a birthday party, family visit, restaurant, and so on. But it sounds like you are lamenting more the loss of strangers' availability to connect?

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Is this something you and your parents did when you were a kid? I don't ever remember sitting and talking to other people in a waiting room. It's just not something that would ever occur to me. I feel like doctor's offices are private affairs and I'd feel like someone was intruding on my personal space if they struck up a casual conversation with me. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile, but I don't talk to them even if we're all sitting there twiddling our thumbs.

 

Yes. Heck, people used to tell you their life story and what their 3rd cousin was up to as well, right in the grocery line! :lol: Maybe that's an old Southern cultural thing, IDK. People always wanted to talk to my daddy. He could make "friends" anywhere.

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Oh, eek. The introvert in me worries about situations like this. I'd bury myself in a book every single time before 'connecting' with strangers in a waiting area.

 

LOL, I'm usually perfectly happy to connect with a stranger on a plane or waiting room, although I HATE going talking to people at parties I have nothing in common with..go figure. Maybe it's the pressure. Anyhoo, my introverted older daughter who panics at the thought of a 4 hour plane ride with strangers always seems to wind up sandwiched between some guy who is trying to hit on her and a grandmother with pictures. She has switched from a book to audiobooks for that reason.

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Yes. Heck, people used to tell you their life story and what their 3rd cousin was up to as well, right in the grocery line! :lol: Maybe that's an old Southern cultural thing, IDK. People always wanted to talk to my daddy. He could make "friends" anywhere.

 

I grew up in Lousiana and moved to Georgia when I was 11. This idea is just plain new to me! :tongue_smilie:

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Will kids of the 21st century know that experience? Are they (and we) losing the ability to either entertain ourselves or --gasp--deal with boredom without the use of batteries?

 

Sometimes the "back in my day" stuff kinda makes me blink...were we really that different?

 

I remember some very long car trips... made bearable with my walkman. :D

 

Oh and we played with this a lot in the car too. Drove my folks batty but kept us from fighting... usually. :laugh:

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Ok, NightElf. Perhaps it's a South Carolina thing, LOL.

 

Or that I come from a very introverted family, which is definitely true! My mom and dad always had their noses in a book. And I was a timid child. In fact, I'm not that much different now. I don't like strangers talking to me. I never know how much to say or what to say. I end up babbling like an idiot. :)

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Next up in ThreadVille:

 

There I was in a waiting room, and all the parents were talking to each other, all of them ignoring their children, so I was stuck having to babysit all of their kids, none of whom my child could relate to because all they wanted to do was play Chase, and my dd wanted to create a catherdral out of stacks of old People magazines. Am I the only one THAT cares to keep an eye on my child?

Edited by LibraryLover
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Next up in ThreadVille:

 

There I was in a waiting room, and all the parents were talking to each other, all of them ignoring their children, so I was stuck having to babysit all of their kids, none of whom my child could relate to because all they wanted to do was play Chase, and my dd wanted to create a catherdral out of stacks of old People magazines. Am I the only one THAT cares to keep an eye on my child?

 

I've ended up babysitting other people's kids on two cross-country airplane flights. I preferred it to hearing the kid whine for hours BUT I did wish that I could just take a nap! (Both moms did take naps while leaving me to entertain their kiddos).

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Sometimes the "back in my day" stuff kinda makes me blink...were we really that different?

 

I remember some very long car trips... made bearable with my walkman. :D

 

Oh and we played with this a lot in the car too. Drove my folks batty but kept us from fighting... usually. :laugh:

 

My brother was partial to Coleco Electronic Quarterback...until I started beating him :D

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I've ended up babysitting other people's kids on two cross-country airplane flights. I preferred it to hearing the kid whine for hours BUT I did wish that I could just take a nap! (Both moms did take naps while leaving me to entertain their kiddos).

 

 

That would have been the perfect time to connect and relate to poor, tired stranger-parents, Jean! Next time, bring extra Gameboys. ;)

 

I must be really scary. I have flown across the US more times than I can count, with and without kids, and never in a million years...so, really, really scary. :)

Edited by LibraryLover
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That would have been the perfect time to connect and relate to poor, tired stranger-parents, Jean! Next time, bring extra Gameboys. ;)

 

I must be really scary. I have flown across the US more times than I can count, with and without kids, and never in a million years...lol I must be a witch!

 

Shhh. We don't own any Gameboys! I do a mean game each of Peekaboo and I Spy and tic-tac-toe and Animal-Vegetable-Mineral;)

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If I recall correctly, my mother often sat in the middle of the back seat on long road trips to minimize "he's looking at me!!!". We too had Walkmans during later years. All of our kids have leapsters that we bought almost exclusively for road trips and we consider them more for us than them lol.

 

I did not grow up in a very structured household, however my mother drilled in us to always bring a book. I brought books places before I ever carried a purse. I hope to make that a lifestyle for my kids too-so they reach for a book before electronics.

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Hmm.. 2 thoughts.

 

1. I hate car trips with a passion. I attribute it to long car rides when I was young and the only entertainment seen to be had was my sister amusing herself with harrassing me. We do one car trip per year, from Georgia to Wisconsin. ONE and I refuse anymore than that unless it's a medical emergency.

 

2. Why should we return to the days of boredom? I doubt technology will stop. Our world is progressing all the time. Our children and their children won't be living in the world that I did when I was growing up, and I didn't live in the world that my mom grew up in. Thank heavens!!!!

 

 

AMEN!!! Way into my adulthood I just did not like Sundays! I finally realized it was because they were sooooooo BORINGGGGG when I was child. I hate being bored even as an adult and try to help my child find interesting things to do when he is bored. I think everyone has different needs with stimulation. I am easily bored and like lots of different things to do! My favorite thing to say to ds is " Let's go on an adventure!"

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Several of my boys' friends are constantly entertained with public school, afterschool activities, video games, etc.... nothing terrible, just stereotypical children of this generation. These are great kids and I love their families, but man they can be exhausting when they come over to stay the night. They need some sort of activity provided for every minute! I hate to have them playing video games the whole time so we do board games, nerf guns, etc.

 

My boys are excellent at entertaining themselves, they love to have time to do their own thing. Especially the older one who is a voracious reader and loves to putz around with various projects he usually has going around the house. Younger brother does to but to a lesser extent, maybe because big brother has typically been available to entertain him? I'm not sure why.

 

Even though I rarely hear "I'm bored," but my 9 year old did say it to me today. I responded (in an encouraging voice) "what!? you're not boring!! You're one of the most interesting people I know!" He said "no I mean am feeling bored". I said "only boring people can get bored and I know you're not boring. Now go find something fun to do!" And he did, thank goodness, because my last resort is usually to give them chores to do and the house was pretty much already clean, lol.

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Hmm.. 2 thoughts.

 

1. I hate car trips with a passion. I attribute it to long car rides when I was young and the only entertainment seen to be had was my sister amusing herself with harrassing me. We do one car trip per year, from Georgia to Wisconsin. ONE and I refuse anymore than that unless it's a medical emergency.

 

2. Why should we return to the days of boredom? I doubt technology will stop. Our world is progressing all the time. Our children and their children won't be living in the world that I did when I was growing up, and I didn't live in the world that my mom grew up in. Thank heavens!!!!

 

AMEN!!! We drove 800 miles to see family at least twice a year... in our oldsmobile delta 88... 3 adults in the front seat...3 kids in the back seat. All we did was squabble the whole time! I HATED IT. My mom brought whatever she could to keep us quiet and everyone sane. And I do the same thing.

 

I guess I don't see the difference in "having to occupy yourself" with a barbie (like I did) or "having to occupy yourself" with a kindle. Either way you are trying to occupy yourself. But I also don't think electronics are evil... and I think it is funny that we are using computers and the internet to discuss the evils of electronics.:lol::lol:

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He could make "friends" anywhere.

 

Yes, Papa could make people laugh. It was sweet.

 

Perhaps it is a familial thing, but when I have to wait, I love to observe. It puts me in a place where I have to think of something to entertain myself. I start wondering: why did they place the chairs there? Where is that reflected light coming from? How often do they have to dust that fake plant? Why is that boy over there looking so sad?

 

It takes me out of where I choose to put myself for even just a few minutes and broadens my horizon. Electronic devises put you "back where you choose to be" and not so much at the whims of the world. A bit of randomness is good. :001_smile:

 

(I noticed with pleasure that my son has started tracking down the origin of every bit of reflected light in the house....he was delighted to find a glimmer on the ceiling from a pan of water left out in the yard.)

 

My favorite family photo was a kodak instamatic my mother took of us unaware at Sturbridge Village. She'd gone off to the loo, and on the way back took a snap of the rest of us waiting for her. We were at a bench next to a tree. All four of us, Papa in his 60s, myself 13, a brother 23 and another brother 32, were investigating something. My dad had his distance glasses pulled up and he was looking at the bolts holding the back of the chair together. I was behind, on tiptoe looking at the buds on the tree. It seems like such a small thing, and it is small, but an important thing, to me, that we didn't each have a gizmo to pull out and take us away from that tree and that bench.

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I guess I don't see the difference in "having to occupy yourself" with a barbie (like I did) or "having to occupy yourself" with a kindle. Either way you are trying to occupy yourself. But I also don't think electronics are evil... and I think it is funny that we are using computers and the internet to discuss the evils of electronics.:lol::lol:

 

:iagree: We travel A LOT to see our families. We have family from 1.5 hours to 11 hours away and several places in between. We visit them often, so we spend lots of time in the car. My kids are allowed to use our laptop in the car to watch a movie. My dd writes on the laptop and has a kindle. Ds has a Gameboy and takes toys along. Both take books as well.

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Sure, there are other ways to connect with parents, and I use them. But I do lament the apparent loss of manners and a feeling of connectedness with fellow human beings that I see.

 

I rarely take anything "to do" when we go to the doctor or lab during the day, because there are always elderly folk there who want to chat. So many people are searching for service opportunities with our homeschool dc, and they are passing up a great one frequently. Once a woman told me a bit too much about why she was there, and I passed out, but other than that, it's been good. :D

 

As to the original question: I don't pack a bunch of things for dc to do, as we usually chat, but if it's a really long trip or I know I have things to think about and need quiet, I tell them, "you'd better bring something to keep yourself busy." Sometimes they have things to think about, and they don't bring anything, but often they grab a book or "mind puzzle" type book or game. When ds was little, I would pack him books/stories on tape and a Walkman for car trips.

 

I think being without something to do in the car for little ones is less useful, because they have trouble having imaginative play without props and the ability move around. My older dc can daydream for hours now, and so can I, sorting out thoughts and feelings, but I don't expect the same from littles.

 

We do have some family preferences, though, that provide ground rules: All of my dc have been trained into the habit of being able to sit for at least an hour or two, with nothing to do but sit quietly, by the age of three or so. It has come in very handy in some emergency situations. We also avoid personal gaming devices and texting, in favor of talking to those around them in public or at home.

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