I'm reading the revised version of Marie Winn's "The Plug-In Drug" and it's really fascinating. Not that I needed the book to convince me that tv is not so wonderful, though. What i like about the book is the way she places the emphasis on the simple experience of tv watching as problematic, rather than the content of the programs. In fact, she points out that all the efforts to make programming suitable for children may be more harmful than beneficial, because it enables parents to feel better about letting their kids watch a lot of tv. Think about it - children's programs are available almost around the clock, aren't they? When I talk with friends about shows their kids like, they always name so many more than I do - dd watches Clifford and Dragon Tales, but a lot of my friends mention those plus Blue's Clues, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Rolie Polie Olie, and on and on (all fairly appropriate preschool shows), and I wonder how many of those shows per day the kid is watching.
Anyway, my question is about the "state" of your child when he/she watches tv or videos (if you allow tv at all, I know some here do not). Is your child one of those "zombie viewers" who wouldn't even notice if you called his name from across the room, slack-jawed, mesmerized? Or does he/she stay more alert? My dd tends to be more alert as long as someone is nearby - she'll point things out to me and sometimes imitate physical parts of what she sees, such as a dance. If nobody is there, though, I imagine she does get into that trance-like state, and I'm trying really hard to not let her watch alone (she sometimes watches when I shower, but not too often - dh is usally giving her breakfast at those times).
Curious to hear what everyone else has to say. Also, I'm recommending the book - it first came out in the 70s, but it's been updated quite a bit.