We Took Away Our Kids’ Screentime; This Is How We Gave It Back

Adam Washburn
17 min readAug 20, 2020
Source: Hua Hin, Pixabay.com

Enforcing an end to screentime in my house has resulted in bad attitudes, rebellion, tears, and major meltdowns.

Disclaimer: I played a lot of computer games and watched a lot of TV growing up.

I grew up in a house that had one rule for screens. When Mom says turn it off, you better turn it off. There were no hourly limits or screentime charts. Only The Rule.

As a result, I played a lot of computer games and watched a lot of TV. However, because of The Rule, I also did homework, played outside, interacted with friends, and did all the normal parts of growing up.

I admit, I wasn’t always an angel at following The Rule with a good attitude. Fortunately, there were also some natural limitations. Kid shows on TV ended around 4:00–5:00 pm on school days and by late morning on Saturdays. TV had commercial breaks. New computer games had to be purchased from a brick and mortar store or ordered through snail mail, not downloaded.

We also didn’t have a true gaming system in our house, although I played a lot of classic Nintendo at friends’ houses. The games back then tended to be pretty unforgiving. After 13 times of dying at the same spot in Super Mario Brothers, you were ready to quit and go outside. Screens were also not portable; thank you, cathode ray tubes.

The internet was starting to become entrenched as I entered high school, but by then I was getting involved with other social and school commitments that kept me busy. TV, games, and internet filled in the cracks of my time, and eventually they became a minimal part of my entertainment landscape.

Flash forward a couple decades, and I’m currently the parent of 6 kids age 13 and under. The digital landscape is now quite different. The internet provides an endless supply of games. New games are designed to be just challenging enough to keep kids going, but not so hard that they give up.

Streaming video has minimal interruptions. Kids’ programming is typically available in limitless quantities with attractive suggestions of how and what to “Watch Next.”

Adam Washburn

PhD Chemist, father of six kids, and local bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.