Over the years my kids would sometimes say, “I’m bored” and I would say, “good…kids should be bored, it’s good for you and gives you time to think”, and now it appears the “experts” agree. Do we have reason to be concerned about the distracted, over-stimulated state of our children? I think most parents would agree that it has become a bigger problem with the proliferation of cell phones and electronic gadgets in the hands of ever younger, impressionable children. A case in point, I was standing in the checkout line at Walmart the other day and I happen to notice many of the children, some as young as five or six years old, were staring intently at some sort of electronic device. As the line move up one mother with two young children would scoot them along with a gentle nudge of her body but they never looked up. They just silently shuffle forward all stiff legged and unnatural like little zombies. They were totally oblivious to the physical world around them. Should we be concerned? Not to be an alarmist but the number of cases of autism are up from 5 in 10,000 a few years ago to 1 in 100 with many cases diagnosed in older children. Here are a few of the symptoms: No response to their name when called, avoids eye contact, resists being touched, appears to not hear when spoken to, appears unaware of others feelings, particularly family members, prefers to be “in their own world”, choosing solitary play over interacting with others. Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Could the isolation and poor social skills of the new autism be a learned behavior? Maybe we find out the hard way unless we encourage a little unplugged boredom in our kids lives. Taking a stand against the rush of technology can be hard when you are a loving parent concerned about your child’s emotional wellbeing. When my daughter was about ten she started asking for a cell phone. My wife and I had thought to make her wait until she was sixteen and driving a car but we quickly decided it would be totally unrealistic so we settled on thirteen as the new milestone. That decision turned out to be more difficult then we imagined but my wife stood firm against the almost overwhelming tide of peer pressure that came from many of our daughters’ friends who at ten years old already had top of the line cell phones. They would carry on texting conversations that my daughter was denied access to. I am sure this made her feel left out and socially handicapped at times but my wife and I felt our daughter would disappear into her own world of texts, chats, tweets, and blogs soon enough without giving in prematurely to the intruder. We felt it important to hold off so our daughter would be encouraged to be more “in the moment” when riding in the car, or walking through the mall, or whatever it is mothers and daughters like to do together. My wife’s thought was to prevent the unwelcomed, third party crasher from interrupting those precious bonding moments between mother and daughter and I think she got it right.