More Bored Today Than Yesterday? National Trends in Adolescent Boredom From 2008 to 2017

J Adolesc Health. 2020 Mar;66(3):360-365. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.09.021. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


Purpose: Boredom is an accepted part of adolescence. Developmental and contextual factors are likely to conspire to increase boredom during adolescence, which, in turn, relates to health risk behaviors. However, literature is lacking in the developmental course of boredom across adolescence as well as historical variation in boredom. The present study used multicohort nationally representative samples of U.S. secondary school students to identify historical trends and grade level differences in boredom overall and by sex.

Methods: The present study includes 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 2008 to 2017 who completed the Monitoring the Future self-report survey (n = 106,784). Joinpoint was used to identify historical trends in boredom and linear regression to identify grade level differences.

Results: Boredom increased historically both across and within grades with girls generally demonstrating greater increases than boys. Across grade, boredom appears to peak in 10th grade for boys and decrease across grade for girls.

Conclusions: Study findings indicate boredom has been increasing among adolescents over the past several years, with greater increases among girls. Increases may be concomitant with recent increases in mental health difficulties, suggesting that the overarching psychosocial profile of U.S. adolescents is becoming less optimal. Findings also suggest boredom peaks in 10th grade overall although when analyzing separately by sex, girls' boredom declines from 8th to 12th grade. It is clear that boredom is a worthy target for intervention both in clinical and prevention contexts.

Keywords: Adolescent; Boredom; Cohort studies; Historical trend; U.S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Boredom*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / psychology*
  • United States