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Impact of Boredom - Millennial Moms

Thank you for your question on the impact of boredom on millennial moms. I found this topic especially interesting as I myself am a millennial mother. Throughout my research, I noticed correlations between millennial mothers experiencing boredom, challenges with a shifting sense of self identity, feelings of social isolation, and symptoms related to postpartum depression. Millennial mothers bring with them habits and attitudes consistent with their generation, such as a reliance on social media and technology for guidance and support and an anxiety associated with missing out on adult-related activities and accomplishments. I will show how the typical rigors associated with new motherhood, specifically boredom, also effect millennial mothers’ ability to feel connected and emotionally present with their children and the world around them.

I drew research information from a variety of sources that focused on information about young western motherhood. As there are currently over 1 million women identified as millennial mothers today, who would have been born between the years of 1978 and 1994, I chose to focus my attention on women who are mothers to infants and small children as also noted by current marketing research information. I broke my research finding down to the different impacts of boredom on millennial mothers, namely impacts to emotional health, self identity, and feelings of social isolation.


Millennial mothers make up uniquely different demographics than their older counterparts. According to an article published by "Family Trending," twice as many millennial mothers are single in comparison to mothers of older generation. Additionally, one third of these mothers is a primary earner in the family, making this a particularly independent group of mothers. With these unique features, we see a potential compounding of the typical emotional and social experiences of new motherhood with those of a busy young professional.


Impacts on Sense of Self Identity:

According to an article titled, “The Secret Price of Motherhood,” mothers often experience an unsettling shift in their sense of self identity that when they have children, which can lead to feeling detached and underwhelmed with the experience of motherhood itself. The article went on to describe the unsettling experience of not feeling as emotionally engaged with the experience of young motherhood as media portrayals of motherhood would suggest are normal, stating that it shouldn’t matter if you’ve read Peppa Pig 15 times in a row; played ‘shop’ for an hour; waited 25 minutes for a two-year-old to dress herself and not finished a single one of the ‘proper’ jobs you need to do." Motherhood should be fun and as the writer noted, "it is frankly unnatural to question such rewarding pleasures." The idea that performing motherhood related tasks should be considered just as rewarding as reaching career or financial milestones may be more difficult to adjust to for a mother who may be used to a more adult focused or financially driven lifestyle, as many millennial mothers have been shown to be.
Impacts on Feelings of Social Isolation:

A March 2017 article published by Psychology Today introduced the important impact of social isolation on mothers of newborns, which can have a direct impact on feelings of boredom. The article cited that "while new mothers might feel extremely connected to their newborn, they often feel extremely disconnected from everyone else." Psychology Today author, Alice Boyce was also quoted to note that as young mothers transition from not having children to new motherhood that "there’s a tension between wanting to keep up friendships and other social relationships but feeling either too exhausted or too anxious about being away from your baby." Millennial mothers can often be struck heavily by this shift in social settings in an age where social media exposure to the experiences of others and the subsequent anxiety or fear of missing out on gown-up social experiences is already an established aspect of millennial adulthood.

Emotional Health and Depression:

Research has also shown a link between a new mother's feelings of boredom and the symptoms of postpartum depression. In an article outlining specific personality traits associated with postpartum depression, feelings of boredom and emotional detachment were common symptoms of mothers experiencing this disorder. While the article cited varying factors contributing to postpartum depression, a young mother's feelings of boredom and lack of connection to new tasks associated with motherhood showed direct implications for the development of depression. Also, while millennial mothers face similar risks for experiencing postpartum depression as their counterparts from previous generations, many specific factors associated with the millennial generation, including social media and technology use show a correlation to how young mothers today might experience boredom, detachment, and depression.


While millennial mothers experience many of the same challenges and experiences that many mothers of previous generations have, aspects such as different cultural and financial expectations and the current impact of social media on modern life play a very specific role in how millennial parents experience new motherhood. Boredom as a feature of millennial motherhood has strong connections and impacts on a mother feeling a sense of social isolation, struggles with a shifting sense of identity, and even an overall sense of depression associated with her new role as a mother.

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Impact of Boredom - U.S.

A mix of social, cultural, and behavioral effects of boredom on American society was found in articles or studies that were published in the past 24 months. These effects are as follows: (a) emergence of the need for boredom intervention and prevention measures, (b) possibility of people becoming politically polarized or hostile toward other nationalities or races, (c) increased inclination of people to experiment, conform just to fit in or belong, do things for excitement's sake, or escape responsibility, (d) low engagement in the workplace, (e) increased distractibility and propensity of people to smoke, drink, or take illegal drugs, (f) higher inclination of certain demographic groups to feel negative emotions, and (g) increased creativity.


Recently published articles and studies reveal the following social, cultural, and behavioral effects of boredom in the United States.

1. Emergence of the need for boredom intervention and prevention measures

This need is indirectly implied in the study ""I am so bored!" Prevalence Rates and Sociodemographic and Contextual Correlates of High Boredom Among American Adolescents," which was published in 2016 in the peer-reviewed journal Youth & Society. Using a sample of 21,173 8th and 10th graders, researchers found that the following demographic groups are more inclined to report a high level of boredom: "eighth graders; females; youth who identified as Black, Biracial, or Native American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander; rural youth; and youth of lower socioeconomic status." They also found that high boredom is significantly associated with circumstances relating to school, parent, peer, and extracurricular activities, and that these associations may be helpful in designing effective boredom intervention and prevention measures.

Texas State University's Taylor Acee, a developmental education assistant professor, said that "generating knowledge about boredom through research can help inform us about how to design educational programs, structure work environments, advise patients and clients and manage our day-to-day lives."

2. Possibility of people becoming politically polarized or hostile toward other nationalities or races

According to a U.S. News article published in 2017, a few studies point to the possibility of boredom leading to people having extreme political views and becoming hostile toward other groups of which they are not a member.

3. Increased inclination of people to experiment, conform just to fit in or belong, do things for excitement's sake, or escape responsibility

ln an article published in 2016 by New York-based magazine Pscyhology Today, Carl Pickhardt PhD wrote about the causes of boredom and the risks boredom brings in each stage of adolescence. These causes and risks are explained in detail below:

Early adolescence stage (ages 9-13)
In this stage, young adolescents experience boredom due to emptiness arising from detachment from childhood. With this type of boredom comes the risk of experimentation where young adolescents may attempt new things, even dangerous or objectionable ones.

Mid adolescence stage (ages 13-15)
In this stage, adolescents experience boredom due to loneliness arising from inadequate or unsatisfactory connections outside of home. With this type of boredom comes the risk of conforming just to fit in or belong.

Late adolescence stage (ages 15-18)
In this stage, adolescents experience boredom due to monotony. With this type of boredom comes the risk of doing extraordinary things for excitement's sake.

Trial independence stage (ages 18-23)
In this stage, adolescents experience boredom due to the feeling of entrapment, which arises from the demands of trying to live independently. With this type of boredom comes the risk of escape. Instead of taking responsibility, these adolescents procrastinate.

4. Low engagement in the workplace

According to the study "Boredom in the Workplace: Reasons, Impact, and Solutions," which was published in 2016 in the peer-reviewed nursing journal Issues in Mental Health Nursing, boredom can result in "costly and unnecessary outcomes for consumers, employees, and organizations alike." Bored employees are expected to be less engaged at work.

5. Increased distractibility and propensity of people to smoke, drink, or take illegal drugs

In a Scientific American article published in 2016, it was written that boredom appears to be "a specific mental state that people find unpleasant - a lack of stimulation that leaves them craving relief, with a host of behavioural, medical and social consequences." Social consequences cited in the article include increased distractibility and propensity to smoke, drink, or take illegal drugs. In a study about boredom and distractibility, it was found that "people prone to boredom typically drove at higher speeds than other participants, took longer to respond to unexpected hazards and drifted more frequently over the centre line."

6. Higher inclination of certain demographic groups to feel negative emotions

Given that boredom is more common among young people, males, the unmarried, and those with lower income, it is possible that these demographic groups are more inclined to feel negative emotions such as sadness, anger, worry, and loneliness. According to the study "Bored in the USA: Experience Sampling and Boredom in Everyday Life," which was published in 2017 in the American Psychological Association's peer-reviewed journal Emotion, "boredom is more likely to co-occur with negative, rather than positive, emotions, and is particularly predictive of loneliness, anger, sadness, and worry."

The same study found that a third of the differences in boredom can be attributed to situational differences or variations in the way demographic groups consume time. Boredom was found to be prevalent in situations involving limited autonomy (for example, time at work or at school) and tedious or burdensome tasks (for example, studying or working).

7. Increased creativity

Though associations between boredom and behavioral issues such as problem gambling, risky sex, poor driving, and binge-eating have been found, it was found years ago that boredom can trigger creativity or inventiveness.


Studies or articles published in the past 24 months indicate that the impact of boredom on American society can be best described by the following social, cultural, and behavioral effects: (a) increasing relevance of the necessity for boredom intervention and prevention measures, (b) risk of people taking hard-line political views or becoming unsympathetic toward outsiders, (c) heightened likelihood of people to experiment, conform just to fit in or belong, do things for excitement's sake, or escape responsibility, (d) reduced engagement at work, (e) heightened distractibility and likelihood of people to smoke, drink, or take illegal drugs, (f) heightened propensity of specific demographic groups to experience negative emotions, and (g) heightened creativity.
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Coping with Boredom

According to Psychology Today, "boredom is a universal experience that everyone suffers at least once in their lifetime." Boredom can be defined as "an unpleasant emotional state characterized by a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity, as well as feelings of sadness, loneliness, or anger."

Reasons Why People Become Bored

People become bored for a variety of different reasons. Psychology Today lists the top reasons why people get bored as:

1. Monotony in the Mind
2. Lack of Flow
3. Need for Novelty
4. (Not) Paying Attention
5. (Lack of) Emotional Awareness
6. Inner Amusement Skills
7. Lack of Autonomy
8. The Role of Culture

ways to overcome boredom

In her article "How to Ovecome Boredom" life coach Kristin Koltick writes, "Living a life without passion or purpose isn’t really living at all, is it? How do we overcome that boredom that creeps not into our lives, but into our hearts?" Simple, by keeping things fresh or by keeping ourselves busy, but not busy for the sake of being busy. "We need to fill our time and space with things that renew our sense of joy, adventure and accomplishment."

Articles from LifeHack, Advanced Life Skills, and Lifecoach Kristin Koltick all list some easy ways to help overcome boredom when someone experiences it in their life.

LifeHack states that it is possible to cope and overcome boredom by doing the following:
1. Getting focused
2. Killing procrastination
3. Enjoying the boredom itself

LifeHack also lists a variety of activities that might help overcome boredom:
-Do some exercise
-Read a book
-Learn something new
-Call a friend
-Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write)
-Spring clean
-Wash the car
-Renovate the house
-Re-arrange the furniture
-Write out a shopping list
-Water the plants
-Walk the dog
-Sort out your mail & email
-De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe)

Similarly, Advanced Life Skills lists 7 helpful tips for overcoming boredom.
1. Taking a vacation
2. Including some complementary activities in your routine
3. Taking up a new hobby or reviving an old one
4. Engaging in quiet reflection or meditating
5. Taking short trips
6. Exploring career options
7. Learning to view the current activities one is currently engaged in a positive way.

According to Kristin Koltick, people can cope with boredom by:

1. Seeking solitude, such as, reading a book, doing yoga, or doing some organizing activity.
2. Seeking knowledge, for example, learning a foreign language, taking new classes or talking with strangers.
3. Seeking adventure, e.g., choosing an activity that challenges or scares you or doing/starting something without a plan.
4. Seeking out new friendships, e.g., joining a team, a club or league, volunteering, or finding a pen pal.

Boredom as related to chronic conditions or addiction

There is other evidence that shows that boredom can be linked with some chronic conditions like ADHD or recovery from drug/alcohol addiction. People with ADHD find that it is very easy to become distracted and restless to the point that they are unable to focus on a task unless it is interesting, challenging, or rewarding to them. People who are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can also suffer from boredom when they are sober and have nothing to fill their time with, when normally they would have turned to drugs or alcohol to occupy their free time.

ways to overcome boredom as related to chronic conditions or addiction

Many of the ways to overcome boredom, if you have a chronic condition such as ADHD or are in recovery from drug/alcohol addiction, are similar to those listed above. But when put in to the context of dealing with a chronic condition or addiction recovery, they take on a different meaning. People who either have ADHD or are in addiction recovery can find themselves falling back into destructive behaviors when they become bored, so it is important for them to have steps in place to mitigate the problem before it becomes too serious.

Additude, 12 Keys Rehab, and Footprints Beachside Recovery Center list similar ways to overcome boredom:

1. Develop a new hobby
2. Find a new activity that gives you a "thrill."
3. Practice mindfulness
4. Engage in social activities
5. Maintain treatment for ADHD/addiction recovery with a medical professional


The reasons why people are affected by boredom are myriad and so are the ways in which people can cope with those feelings of boredom. It seems as though experiencing boredom is a way for a person's brain to tell them that their life is getting monotonous and that it is time for a change of pace.
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Boredom and Snacking Habits

Boredom and snacking are intrinsically linked, with the second often resulting from the first. Snacking when bored may have adverse effects on people, especially in the context of diets, where the food most often consumed is sweet, fatty, or generally unhealthy.

There is no universal definition of what boredom is, nor a clinical definition. It is distinct from depression, a prolonged period of low mood and loss of interest in activities, as well as apathy. The most succinct definition is that it is a state of mind that is unpleasant, characterized by a lack of stimulation that people avoid and from which they crave relief. This can occur in many ways, among which are binge-eating or snacking, both popular methods of relief.

Food as Relief from Boredom

As stated above, food is a common method by which people relieve their boredom. This may be due to several reasons. The first is that most people dislike monotony which often accompanies boredom (i.e., when there is no interesting stimulation occurring). A study linked monotonous boredom with snacking. The participants used food to disrupt and fill the monotony that they were experiencing. In this case, it was the drive to break the boredom that led to food. It is an effective distraction.

The second reason is that eating, especially certain foods, elicits reward behavior from the human brain. Junk foods, or foods high in sugar, fat, sodium, etc. have been found to increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an endorphin, commonly referred to as a "feel good" hormone and is released as part of a reward response. Essentially, it feels nice to eat junk food and this feeling is used to replace the unpleasant feelings that boredom brings.

Linking into this is that food provides an outlet for emotional needs. Because of the reward response with certain food, snacking can be used to relieve other negative emotions such as sadness, stress, loneliness and, of course, boredom. Eating occupies both the body and the mind and this helps the persons emotional state.

Lastly, the industry of fast food and "snack" foods have placed their products and used advertising to link them with the state of boredom. Well versed in psychology, companies' products are placed and marketed so that they are often the first method tried to relieve boredom in customers. This may have also affected the number of people that use snacks and food to improve their emotional state and occupy themselves with easily available products (as such foods are marketed as "solutions").


People snack for a variety of reasons and boredom often drives them to it, as do other negative emotional states. Food is used to break the monotony that often accompanies boredom, or to improve their emotional state when they are sad or depressed. Snacking may also be done to feel the dopamine reward response given by sugary or fatty foods or done to occupy the mind and the body, relieving boredom in that manner. The link of food with boredom is also reinforced by advertising from food companies and distributors who make sales from marketing their products as a "cure" for boredom.
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Boredom and Tech Use

The smartphone has become a major technology in avoiding boredom for both teens and adults. 77% of people owning smartphones use their phones to prevent boredom. The rate jumps 93% among adults between 18 to 29 years compared to just 55% among adults aged 50 years and above. The users access their social media accounts, check their emails, send text messages, and surf the internet as ways of eliminating boredom.

Teenagers spend a lot of time a day using technology, especially smartphones, tablets, or computers. They spend about nine of their fifteen waking hours every day consuming media. They most likely spend the remaining hours at school. Teenagers use their phones to avoid boredom. It distracts them through the different apps available for accessing media and making social connections. News apps, Facebook, and Snapchat provide an endless temptation for the bored teenagers. Pew Research on teenagers from the age of 13 to 17 years revealed that 70% are on Facebook, more than 50% use Snapchat and Instagram, and 24% of all the teenagers are online most of the time. The distraction caused by the social media applications, communicating with their friends online and making new social connections distract them from the boring environments. The level of distraction the smartphones and tablets cause in classrooms has motivated some schools to start using iPads and tablets to improve the learning and engagement of the students in classroom activities.

Boredom is the main reason college students opt to use their digital devices in class. A survey of 675 college students from 26 states revealed that about 97% of students use their phones in class for non-academic purposes. Spending time on the digital devices at the time of boredom helps in interacting with other people and reading information on the social media platforms. They spend about 20% of the classroom time texting, surfing the web, sending emails, playing games, and checking the social media. The digital media provide an
immediate way of relieving boredom for the college students.About 90% use their devices for texting, 75% for checking the time and sending emails, 70% for social media, 40% for surfing the internet, and 10% for playing games. The different activities keep the students occupied and help in eliminating their boredom. The constant use of mobile devices can negatively affect the academic performance of students. A study of about 500 college students revealed that students who use their cell phones for one to 1.5 hours every day are likely to have a GPA that is 0.4 points higher than that of students using them for four to five hours every day.

Employees also get bored at some point in their daily routines. A poll of 300 senior managers and 380 American employees revealed that professionals get bored while at work for about 10.5 hours every week. The respondents explained that the activities that eliminate their boredom include browsing the internet, checking their emails, chatting with workers, and going on social media. Other activities include making videos, shooting rubber bands with colleagues, solving crossword puzzles, and learning another language. The employees require their smartphones, tablets, or computers to access their social media accounts, surf the internet, and check their emails. They can also use their smartphones to make videos. These activities help them overcome boredom at work. The employees aged 18 to 34 years are the most bored every week, and 28% of senior managers believe the boredom emanates from the lack of feeling challenged at work.

Adults of all ages use their smartphone as a way to prevent boredom. However, the rate of using smartphones to avoid boredom decreases with an increase in age. 93% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 years old use their smartphones to avoid boredom. 82% of adults between the age of 30 to 49 years and 55% of adults aged fifty years old and above also use their smartphones to prevent boredom. The statistics indicate the widespread use of smartphones by people across all ages in alleviating boredom. What's more is that 79% of adults actually feel productive and 77% feel happy when using their smartphones.

In conclusion, most people use their smartphones to prevent boredom whether in class or at work. 77% of smartphone owners use them to avoid boredom, and the usage is higher among adults between the age of 18 to 29 and lowest among those aged 50 years and above. The major activities that help to prevent boredom include surfing the internet, checking social media accounts, sending texts, sending emails, and surfing the internet.

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The Future of Boredom

The future of boredom is directly linked to the technological advances taking place today. Recent studies on boredom and technology have shown that new technologies such as smartphones, social media and synced email are commonly used to cure the feelings of boredom. On the other hand, other technology developments such as artificial intelligence and robotics threaten productivity, which could lead to increased downtime and boredom. Based on these findings, it is likely that technology will increase the amount of downtime, resulting in increased feelings of boredom. Ironically, feelings of boredom will likely be avoided through distractions from technology. Consequently, humans will be conditioned to need constant stimulation which could intensify feelings of boredom during downtime.

i. technology and boredom

Technology and social media often work as a distraction for those experiencing boredom. According to an article in Scientific American, technology erases the feeling of boredom. In a separate study, it was found that individuals have grown so accustomed to technology that separation from phones and social media causes feelings of anxiety as well. Multiple studies have concluded that smartphones and tablets have made boredom more tolerable. To further prove this, the Center for Media and Public Agenda conducted a study to measure an individual's ability to go without their phones or social media. The results of this experiment showed that more than half of participants did not last longer than two hours. The remaining participants reported feelings of intense boredom and social disconnect. These results suggest that humans are in need of constant stimulation to avoid feelings of boredom.

ii. boredom in children and adolescents

Historically, children and adolescents are prone to boredom, especially while in the classroom. Educational theorists and philosophers have used many strategies to help combat this boredom with little success. A Czech education reformer named John Amos Comenius introduced a concept that stated children needed learning to be "gamesome" in order for it to hold interest. Recent innovations in education have continued to build on this concept by introducing educational tools using "gamification" strategies. Some of those tools use interactive technology, however, students are still displaying high levels of boredom. In fact, researchers believe "gamification" technologies have helped decrease attention spans. Decreased attention spans have made boredom ever more prevalent in children and adolescents.

Though technology has been identified as a contributor to boredom among children and adolescents, educational leaders are looking towards technology to address the problem. Technologies such as interactive games that can read facial expressions and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), a headset that can detect boredom in those who wear it, aim to fix these issues. These developments aim to reduce the feelings of boredom in the future. However, the potential impact of these technologies are yet to be seen, therefore, it is unclear whether feelings of boredom will grow or decrease in the future.

iii. Boredom in adults

Adults are less likely to report issues of boredom. This is likely due to the fact that many American adults complain of being overworked. Furthermore, this indicates that, currently, adults may not have much leisure or downtime. Because adults feel so overworked, many are looking to technology to increase leisure time.

Using technology to increase leisure time can have some unintended consequences. The future of technology could affect the future of boredom among adults. For instance, McKinsey predicts technology advancements such as automation and robotics could destroy 45 percent of jobs for both blue and white collar workers. This could negatively impact workers because adults, specifically Americans, are conditioned to value themselves based on productivity. Without jobs, some adults will become less productive. If McKinsey's prediction becomes a reality, boredom will likely become more prevalent among adults.


In summary, feelings of boredom are likely to remain the same for children and will likely increase for adults. Though technology aims to reduce periods of boredom for children and adolescents, studies have shown that technology tends to have the reverse effect by decreasing attention spans. For adults, feelings of boredom may come from increased job displacement due to automation and the increased use of robotics. Despite this, technology such as smartphones and social media will likely replace increased feelings of boredom as it does in present day.