Truth: I am one of those moms (or one of "those" moms, depending on how you say it) who thinks that a little TV watching isn't so bad for my son. In fact, there are many valid reasons why I think it's good for him. I can tell you that Miles watches some "TV" every day.
Before you call child protective services, hear me out:
1) He doesn't watch hours and hours every single day. We don't plop him down in front of the TV and leave him there to stare at it for an entire morning or afternoon. That is sort of laughable to think about because for Miles to sit still for that long would take an act of God, anyway. But the point is that a little DVD action in the car or to calm him down before bedtime is not going to fry his brain. My mom is a dietitian (ret.) and her mantra about food is: Everything in moderation. I apply this to many parts of my life, including TV. We aren't excessive about it. We practice moderation. Sensible, yes?
2) We don't let him watch South Park. Or even Sponge Bob. In fact, we don't watch TV channels at all. We watch DVDs only. That way we can regulate what he sees, and we can also cut out the amount of commercials that he is exposed to. Our choices are relatively educational in nature: Elmo's World, Sesame Street, Little People, Go Diego Go and Barney are the only DVDs that we own. He l.o.v.e.s. Barney. And (here's another moment of truth) SO DO I. Here's my defense of Barney for all you hecklers out there: If you have a kid that likes music and likes to dance, Barney is the way to go. Miles does the actions to many of the songs and dances his little tushy off, too. Barney teaches manners, makes it fun to brush your teeth and teaches kids how to use their imaginations. What's so wrong with that? Barney is not the most annoying fictional kids character out there. Not by a long shot. Yes, the kids on Barney are unusually smiley and disarmingly happy. Yes, the songs might get stuck in your head. But by and large Barney pretty much tops my list as the best of the best. I approve.
3) DVDs can be super good for your child's learning. I firmly believe that some of the DVDs that we watch have improved Miles vocabulary and language skills. They have certainly gone a long way toward him starting to learn to count and say the alphabet.
4) We spend way more time reading books than we do watching DVDs. Enough said.
5) We watch the DVDs with him, and engage him in conversation about what he is seeing. We do not set him down in front of the TV and walk away. We sit with him, snuggle and sing along to the songs together. You can't tell me that isn't good 'quality time' spent. It truly is.
6) Sitting down to watch a DVD gives Miles the chance to focus and calm down in a world where he is usually running, running, running. Believe me, his activity level is a gift not a curse. But I think that having a variety of activities is good for all of us. It lengthens his attention span and helps to prepare him for a time when he might be required to sit for a greater period of time.
In summation (I feel like a lawyer giving closing arguments), I will defend Barney any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I am not putting all of this out there to actually be defensive about it (although I know I will get some who disagree with my philosophy, and I fully expect to get crucified for this). I put it out there because I think we are quick to condemn things that might actually not turn out to be so bad in the end. I know that some will site research on brain development and blah blah blah...if I had any reservation at all about Miles' development you can bet your Barney I would think twice before letting him watch. But he's fine. It's fine. And again, everything in moderation.
The truth, my friends, is now out there. ;)