our everyday life

What Happens to Teens When They Are Bored?

by Eliza Martinez, studioD

You know that leaving a toddler to his own devices can be disastrous, but a teen with nothing to do can turn into a ticking time bomb, too. An increase in independence during the teen years can leave your child unsure what to do, according to an article at Psychologytoday.com. Understanding the potential trouble your teen could encounter can help you teach him to manage his time and stay engaged with activities to counteract boredom.

Substance Abuse

Boredom is a driving factor in experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Teens with little to do are more likely to try drugs, cigarettes and alcohol than teens who are busy, according to an article in "USA Today." Consistent communication with your teen about the dangers of these substances goes a long way toward helping him abstain, even if he is bored, notes Steve Pasierb of Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Get your teen involved in sports or after-school clubs if he complains of boredom when you're still at work.

Boredom Habit

You probably can't understand why your teen is so willing to stay bored. Being bored becomes a habit over time and reduces your teen's willingness and motivation to try new experiences, according to the Women's and Children's Health Network. Even if an activity is potentially interesting, your bored teen might avoid it just because he's gotten into the habit of being bored. Help your teen find activities that match his skills and interests so he's more willing to give them a try.

Weight Gain

Bored teens are more likely to eat, particularly junk food, according to the Women's and Children's Health Network. As they sit around wondering what to do, they might mindlessly snack, which combined with a lack of exercise can result in unhealthful weight gain. Being overweight increases the risk of several health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Encourage your teen to choose healthful foods, even if he's bored, to fill him up without filling him out. At the same time, help him find exercise that he enjoys so he's motivated to get out there and burn calories and stay fit.


As the parent of a teen, you've probably encountered the resistance from a bored teen when you suggest a possible activity. Boredom can make a teen feel angry, which he then takes out on you because he's out of sorts and doesn't know what to do with himself. Suggest inviting a friend over, teach your child to cook a meal or take him to a movie, when you can. With time, he'll learn to find himself something fun to do when boredom strikes.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images