Our Culture of Impatience in an On-Demand World

children and technology Aug 13, 2018

by editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée


We live in a society that serves instant gratification: dinners come pre-packaged or are delivered soon after our orders; we send and receive messages instantly; payment transactions are paid within minutes; and entertainment has never before been more abundant and accessible. There is no more waiting for the newest movie to hit the local theatre. Often, it’s one online click away. 

Nowadays, we expect to receive things immediately. While many adults are aware of how this differs from our childhoods, children don't have the same perspective. We should be wondering how this on-demand world may affect our children.

Turns out, studies are finding that it contributes to kids wanting more and more while feeling less and less fulfilled.


What is Instant Gratification?

Waiting is hard for everybody. We receive a high from immediately receiving desired items. While it's addictive to experience pleasure without delay, an unbalanced experience of instant gratification can undermine our opportunities from the deep satisfaction earned through hard work and perseverance.


Impulse Control is Important

Society, in general, is becoming less patient with increasing hyperconnectivity. The long and winding road is not as attractive as it once was; most choose paths that avoid short-term pain or discomfort. This approach prevents children from experiencing what's needed for long-term success: overcoming obstacles through perseverance, hard work, difficult times, critical thinking, problem-solving, emotional IQ, and resilience. All this involves delaying pleasure to reach long-term goals.

An example of this is the college student who foregoes a night out with friends to study for an important exam. The night out provides immediate pleasure, but staying in to study for a challenging test builds skills and traits for a successful life. Studies suggest that those who learn impulse control when young enjoy various improved outcomes as teens and adults, such as:

  • Better school performance
  • Higher scores of standardized tests
  • Higher paying jobs
  • Improved Health
  • Successful peer and significant other relationships


What Can Parents Do?

Parents are significant role models for their children, and kids benefit considerably when they watch their parents exhibit self-control and patience. Parents that model self-regulation show their children how to negotiate the world at a slower pace that also provides better life results. Below are some tips.

  • Create a consistent environment
  • Reward self-control consistently
  • Play games that encourage restraint
  • Encourage creative play so that a child learns to self-regulate
  • Encourage positive self-talk to develop an inner voice
  • Provide opportunities for exercise which boosts dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin

The ability to delay gratification is a useful personal trait that helps children, teens, and adults find success in their endeavors

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Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

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