Do you remember the Rubik’s Cube? The inventor, an architect, did not even know if it could be solved when he first created it in 1974.
In fact, it took him a month to solve it for the first time.
Google “fastest time to solve Rubik’s cube,” and you will see a picture of Feliks Zemdegs and his buddies, most of whom are not even shaving yet, smiling at his Guinness World Records time of 4.22 seconds.
Why are Rubik’s Cubes, lock pick sets, and video games so appreciated by teenagers? The obvious answer to me is that they are the ones with enough time and focus to devote hours and hours to the perfection of a single skill, which, on the surface, appears to have no real value. But for teens, puzzles are an avenue for building life skills.
Although the act of solving puzzles and picking locks may seem pointless, the human mind sees great value in such activities.
Humans Long to Solve Challenging Problems
Problem-solving is built into our DNA and is why we have built things like the Eiffel tower and launched rockets that took men to the moon. Is it necessary for survival? I would argue no, even though Elon Musk may disagree.
Even climbing big mountains or kayaking huge waterfalls come under this need to push the limits and solve the technical problem of doing it and surviving. If you watch the recent movie “Free Solo” by Jimmy Chin and Alex Honnold, you get a glimpse into the mind of Alex as he maps out each move to make it to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.
He has copious notes about each foot and hand placement, how to place his body, all without a rope. One missed move, and it is all over, for good. Having spent almost half of my adult life climbing, I can attest to the desire to have no rope or distractions and only have the complex problem of moving over stone. It is a fluid, dynamic chess game with your mind and body.
Lock picking is a similar mindset. There is the problem, the lock. Impenetrable. But there are secrets hidden within for those who are willing to learn. But success is not easily attained. You must study how locks are made.
Lockpicking Develops Problem-Solving Skills in Teens
As children, we play with Legos and different types of building blocks and puzzles that challenge our minds. We become enthralled with problem-solving and the triumph of building Iron Man from a pile of snapping blocks.
The teenage mind similarly longs for focus and problem-solving opportunities. Therefore, as teens, we get hooked on video games that require us to problem solve. We start out the game and get killed almost immediately.
We start over and try again, and again, and again. We forget to do our homework, our chores, to eat. We are so focused on getting better and solving more and more complex problems. We meet with other friends and try and get cheats and ways to beat the system. We are fascinated with movies like the Borne series and 007 and the Matrix. They all have problems that seem impossible to solve but somehow, they get solved.
It is this very suspense, this impossibility, that creates great drama in all kinds of genres.
This is where a clear plastic lock is useful.
You must develop a feel of the working mechanism. This requires the development of fine motor skills. You must overcome frustration and failure, just like getting killed for the umpteenth time in Halo. Eventually, you open your first lock! It just pops open as you flip that last pin. You think…. “I got this,” as visions of you being Borne escaping at the last minute just before he is captured. Your head swells with pride. You try again only to discover that you have only begun on the path.
It is the type of skill development that teachers strive for in the classroom. You must work at it to become good.
It is a life skill that carries over into so many other areas of life. Through lockpicking, you can develop skills in researching, understanding, practice, patience, and mastery.
Final Words About Buying a Lock Pick Set for Teens
Along with knowledge comes responsibility. We give the keys to kids at the age of 16 and let them hurtle a 5000-pound vehicle down the street at dizzying speeds knowing that the consequences are grave if used incorrectly, yet we do it.
It is one of many life skills that have the ability to do harm or do good. Our job is not to hold back knowledge but rather to pass it on and teach responsibility with it.
One of the best lock picking manuals out there came from an MIT student interested in the art of lock picking as a problem-solving tool.
If you have teenagers with inquisitive minds, you should consider letting them try their hand at lock sport. It is a ton of fun, a great teacher, and keeps their fidgety nature engaged.