I have toyed back and forth on the tv issue since Blake was born. I did research in grad school on the effects of television watching on young children, with my focus on the effect of violent tv shows (including cartoons and news shows) on young children's perception of reality verse fantasy. That being said, I also know that there are a LOT of television shows written for children that have some strong backing in providing the educational fundamentals of reading, writing, math, science and social studies skills.
I have gone to both extreems in the last two years (no tv at all and tv most of the day). Now I will say that 75% of the time the tv is on in the house both boys are playing and not even paying attention to it being on. I do monitor what shows are on while they are watching and talk about what they are watching and learning. I am right there with them playing while the show is on and interacting with them and the tv.
When our tv died last week, both boys went without any tv. This weekend Blake got a Thomas DVD in his basket and he asked to watch it. This was the first time in almost a week that he even asked for the tv to be put on. He watched the DVD while we were getting lunch ready, and then the tv was turned off. He has yet to ask for it to be turned on again.
We are enjoying listening to the radio as well as children's music cd's. The boys are playing alone and together with their toys and being engaged in what they are doing. I have actually got more work done around the house without the tv on than with the tv as an option.
Now, am I saying that I will continue to leave the tv off all the time... NO! I live in the reality of there are times when the boys will not feel well and just need that time to chill out and do a whole lot of nothing. I also know there will be days that I will need to put it on because I don't feel well and need to keep them contained to one space. But, unless he specifically asks for it to be put on, I'm not offereing it. I also will limit the time it is on even more than before.
I know this is a for now issue... it is something that we will have to revisit as the boys get older. But, for now I will enjoy knowing that at least maybe our electric bill will be less next month (o: