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.

See also:

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