SOMETIMES, just sometimes, it’s okay to be bored.

And - brace yourselves - it’s okay for children to be bored too. In fact, it’s probably good for them.

So says broadcaster Jeremy Vine, who believes that today’s children are ‘over entertained’ and could benefit from a spell of boredom now and then.

“I do think boredom is important for a child. Boredom is good. Boredom fires the imagination,” the BBC Radio 2 presenter said, promoting his memoir, What I Learnt, at a recent literature festival. Reflecting on his own childhood, he said boredom led he and his brother to find things to do, such as making paper aeroplanes and building a treehouse.

In contrast, the father-of-two said today’s children are so used to being constantly entertained they end up with shorter attention spans. A radio producer he knew had difficulty finding youngsters willing to sit through a whole Saturday morning show - they only managed two or three minutes of giving their full attention.

With not much on the telly back in Jeremy’s childhood, and only one record player and one record in his family home, he was often left to make his own entertainment, which meant using his imagination. Boredom, he says, allows the mind to grow.

Having also had a 1970s childhood, with just three TV channels and little else in the way of home entertainment, I’m with Jeremy. I spent chunks of my childhood simply mooching around, calling on friends around the neighbourhood, and finding things to do. Often we just played, using nothing more than our imaginations to build on.

Back then it was easy to be bored because there wasn’t much for youngsters on TV - we didn’t even have a video recorder until I’d left home for university.

Today’s children seem to me to be terribly over-stimulated, with endless gadgets and the omnipresent Netflix. Yes, children are developing vital digital skills, but I can’t helping wondering if their imagination is being lost a little along the way.

As Jeremy Vine says, the endless choice of modern entertainment means it’s very difficult now for youngsters to experience boredom.

I know of kids who spend most of their leisure time being driven to various classes - musical instruments, horse-riding, dancing, sports etc - and somehow they have to juggle all of this with a demanding homework timetable. It leaves very little time for a spot of healthy boredom. Then there’s that awful American concept, the “play date”, which gives the impression that young children have to schedule in a “window” to simply play with their friends. Are children so smothered in cotton wool these days that they’re not even allowed the freedom of knocking on a friend’s door to ask if they’re “playing out?”

The simple pleasures of boredom shouldn’t be confined to childhood. Working fulltime, I try to make the most of my weekends, but occasionally it’s nice to just potter around the house with nothing in particular to do. It feels like a guilty pleasure, curling up on the sofa and reading a book for an hour on a Saturday afternoon, or closing my eyes and listening to the radio. Being bored almost feels sinful, with a nagging inner voice telling me I should be spending my free time kayaking down a river, conquering the Three Peaks or taking up the cello.

But sometimes I don’t want to do any of that (especially the kayaking). Instead, I just want to be a bit bored, breathe out and give my mind chance to de-clutter.

* WHAT a shame the lovely Reverend Richard Coles has been booted off Strictly Come Dancing!

The judges went for technical skill over fun and voted the former Communards star off - and the hit show is poorer for it. Yes, the Rev's stomping paso doble was more disgruntled toddler than fiery matador, and he was never going to reach the final. But for entertainment, he was TV heaven. Strictly is about fun as well as ballroom skills. Rev Richard brought more joy to the dance-floor than some wooden daytime TV presenters I could mention...

* CASH-STRAPPED councils could save up to £35 million a year from a "deposit refund system" for drinks bottles and cans, a report suggests. The scheme would boost recycling of drinks containers by charging a deposit when purchased, refunded on return to a collection point, such as a shop. The Scottish Government has announced plans for such a scheme.

Makes sense to me. In the UK, 35 million plastic bottles and 20 million aluminium cans are sold daily, many ending up in oceans and landfill sites. Evidence from countries such as Norway shows that deposit schemes can raise collection rates above 90per cent and reduce littering. And having fewer containers to collect and sort, and sending less waste to landfill, would create savings for councils. It's a win-win.