I don't understand why sooo many folks think TV is actually evil. I am talking about toddlers watching commercial free cartoons say several hours a day.
I think "evil" is a very strong word, but I do think our lives have improved enormously since we've been TV free (dd, almost 2, has never watched any TV). We talk more, read more, interact more, and are more creative in how we spend our time. We sleep better. Our concentration has improved tremendously. And we were never big TV watchers to begin with. Dd is incredibly verbal, independent, social, and creative--I'm not saying that a child who watches TV *won't* be those things--I'm just saying that we don't see what TV could be giving her (and us) that she doesn't already have.
So many TV shows feed into (and are fed by) a culture of over- and conspicuous consumption that we want to avoid as much as possible. I like that dd's dolls are just dolls, not Elmo and Dora. I like that she doesn't ask for the fruit snacks or sugar cereal at the supermarket, just because it has a favorite character on the box. I like that all of her books are actual books, not product tie-ins meant to feed the cycle of watching and buying.
We watch movies at home (just dh and I) maybe once or twice a month. When dd is older, we will include her in that, but I don't think we'll want to do it more often. So many nights, one of us will say, "Hmm...do you want to watch a movie?" And after we think about it, we almost always say, "No, let's do X instead."
And "several hours a day"? Dd is "busy" (dinner, bath, stories, etc.) starting at 6:30 pm, goes to sleep around 8, wakes at around 7am. We're dressing and eating breakfast and tidying up until around 8:30. She naps for around 2 hours a day. So our big blocks of play time are 8:30-12 and then 3-6:30. I can't imagine if three of those hours a day were taken up with TV! We'd miss out on so many other activities--trips to the park, art class, walks around the neighborhood, cooking together, reading books, coloring, gardening, building, doing puzzles, whatever. Again, it's not that I think TV is "evil"--it's that there are so many other things that we find more enriching. But several hours a day seems really worrisome to me. Toddlers just don't have that much awake time!