For the average person, curiosity seems like a natural inborn trait. After all, no one has to teach a baby to start reaching out to touch, taste and seek to discover more about the world around them. In fact, if you’ve ever had a toddler, you know how difficult it can be to prevent a child from exploring absolutely every object they can possibly reach out and grab onto!
Children are born with this innate desire to learn about the world around them. As they grow, the focus of their curiosity can become more and more complex over time. They will eventually transition from simple curiosity about the here-and-now in the physical realm and start becoming curious about more abstract concepts. At least, that’s the natural progression of the way in which human minds develop.
However, due to the increased use of screens as a convenient babysitter for even young toddlers, children have begun to abandon their natural curiosity in favor of the quick satisfaction their senses derive from non-stop entertainment. When this entertainment addiction is allowed to take hold, it can lead to a lack of curiosity, as well as an inability to occupy one’s mind during times that lack outside mental stimulation.
Many adolescents and even adults who were raised with constant exposure to screens find it extremely difficult to avoid becoming extremely bored and even frustrated when they are deprived of screen-based entertainment for any significant length of time. The problem with this habit of people always needing to watch a screen is that it can harm their ability to develop necessary skills like self-reflection and creativity. Even being left alone in a doctor’s office without access to cellphone service is enough to make some people feel irritable, anxious, and bored. They simply aren’t able to find productive ways to use their mental abilities on their own. The result of this phenomenon, besides frustrated individuals, is a society that is becoming less and less creative.
What Is the Answer to The Widespread Dilemma of Lacking Curiosity?
Tragically, some kids don’t have to unlearn their natural curiosity, because they were never even given the chance to properly develop it in the first place. From the moment they began to cry, fuss, or drool on objects they put into their mouths, they were immediately placed in front of a screen so they would stop “causing trouble.” This instant gratification stifles their natural curiosity and builds an unhealthy dependency on electronic devices. Instead of trying to figure out the answer to a problem themselves, their first instinct is to look it up online. Rather than daydream or come up with their own stories and songs, they find someone else doing it on their tablet, sit still, and just passively watch. The unpopular but necessary answer to this problem is to set firm limits on a child’s screen time.
Though they may not like it, limiting a child’s screen time is extremely good for them. It forces them to find creative ways to play, develop their imaginations, and get creative. All of these skills are necessary if we want them to become well-rounded individuals. In our next article in this series, we’ll look at how to recognize curiosity in a child. Then we’ll consider some of the benefits of curiosity, as well as ways to encourage it.