Limiting your children’s screen time?

The following are some of the effects of screen time limits from my childhood:

1. I internalized “This thing that brings me joy needs to be limited → screens are bad/harmful. I shouldn’t like it as much as I do. I shouldn’t trust this joy that I feel, and, more generally, I shouldn’t trust myself and my intrinsic wants and desires.”

2. Other things, e.g. outside time, homework, etc, are more important than screens → some activities have more value than others + I need to consult others to tell me which activities are good/bad since I can’t trust myself.

3. Created an environment that incentivised lying, e.g. “I’m almost done with this level, can I just finish this last bit?”, or “I’ll be done with this match in 5 minutes.” while knowing that it might take quite a while longer.

4. Created an environment that incentivised deception, e.g., hiding Gameboy under the covers to play when I wasn’t supposed to be playing.

5. Led to shame about myself for the lying and deceiving I was doing → “I’m a bad person because a good kid doesn’t lie to and deceive his parents/adults.”

6. Resentment / hatred / annoyance towards parents/adults when the screens were taken away against my will → damaged trust and closeness in these relationships.

7. More stress and less enjoyment while playing video games, e.g., I was worried that I would be told to stop playing before I finished a level or match.

8. Less enjoyment of the thing I had to do before being allowed to play video games, e.g., 1 hour outside play time before video games, and then I was resenting the time I had to be outside as that’s not what I wanted to do at that moment.

9. When I was outside of the influence of adults that could limit my screen time, and video games were finally fully available, I played video games to a significantly greater degree than I imagine I would have otherwise.

Additionally, these effects influenced how I related (and, as far as I can tell, still relate) to myself and others outside of screen specific moments, e.g., trusting myself less, etc. I imagine I am not alone in this experience, as some or many of the above effects are likely true for other kids with screen time limits.

Grant Goedde, 2022, ‘Limiting your children’s screen time?’,