Tip #1: Rearrange the furniture

Turn your living room into a place for family interaction and play by arranging the furniture so the TV is not the focus of the room.

True Story: Melissa decided that her sons, Azariah (age 4) and Caleb (age 2), were spending too much time with screens, so she moved the television out of the main living space and into the family’s office. She turned the TV stand in the living room into an activity table for the kids. Now they use the former TV stand to play with their toys, use playdough, create artwork, eat snacks, and more! Melissa says the children adapted to the change quickly, and that her husband likes that the main room in their home now feels “more like a family room.” She and her husband use the office when they want to watch TV.

Azzi and Caleb at their activity table

Outcome: Azariah and Caleb were averaging three hours of TV on weekdays and two hours on the weekend. After moving the television out of the living room, Azariah and Caleb aren’t getting any screen time! Melissa says that the kids are getting along better and going to sleep earlier now, which gives her and her husband more time together as a couple. And as a family, they’re doing more activities together, like gardening in the warm months.

Melissa says: “When we first moved the TV out of the living room and stopped letting the boys watch it, I noticed they were aggressive toward each other. It was like they didn’t know how to interact nicely! But after a while without screen time, they began to use their imaginations a lot more and learned how to entertain themselves. They still fight sometimes, of course, but they get along so much better now."

Did you know? Young children who watch more television show increased aggression,1 but kids who spend less time with screens spend more time with their families,2,3 fall asleep faster,4 sleep longer,5,6,7 and have more time for creative play.8

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1. Manganello J.A., & Taylor C.A. (2009). Television exposure as a risk factor for aggressive behavior among 3-year-old children. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 163(11), 1037–1045. http://doi.org/10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.193
2. Pressman, R., Owens, J., Schettini Evans, A., & Nemon, M. (2014). Examining the interface of family and personal traits, media, and academic imperatives using the Learning Habit Study. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 42(5), 347-363.
3. Vandewater, E. A., Bickham, D. S., & Lee, J. H. (2006). Time well spent? Relating television use to children’s free-time activities. Pediatrics, 117(2), 181-191.
4. Pressman, R., Owens, J., Schettini Evans, A., & Nemon, M. (2014). Examining the interface of family and personal traits, media, and academic imperatives using the Learning Habit Study. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 42(5), 347-363.
5. Barlett, N.D., Gentile, D.A., Barlett, C.P., Eisenmann, J.C., & Walsh, D.A.. (2012). Sleep as a mediator of screen time effects on US children’s health outcomes. Journal of Children and Media, 6(1), 37-50.
6. Magee, C.A., Jeong, K.L., & Vella, S.A. (2014). Bidirectional relationships between sleep duration and screen time in early childhood. JAMA Pediatrics - The Journal of the American Medical Association, 168(5), 465-470.
7. Marinelli, M., Sunyer, J., Alvarez-Pedrerol M., Iñiguez, C., Torrent, M., Vioque J., Turner, M.C., & Julvez, J. (2014). Hours of television viewing and sleep duration in children. JAMA Pediatrics - The Journal of the American Medical Association, 168(5), 458-464.
8. Valkenberg, P.M. (2001). Television and the child’s developing imagination. In D.G. Singer & J.L. Singer (Eds.) Handbook of children and the media (121-134). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.