Sorry- this is long.
We've been mostly TV-free or TV-limited since my oldest (about to turn three) was born. We didn't have an actual TV, my husband and I occasionally watched stuff online or through Netflix, and my son would sometimes watch carefully selected DVDs or youtube videos. My partner and I were both happy with that arrangement.
Three mouths ago we moved in with my parents for the next two and a half years so I can go to nursing school (yay!). However......TV is king here. The entertainment system/home theatre in the living room is epic. There's this giant plasma screen TV taking up the whole wall that just grabs your attention, even when the darn thing is off! I've never seen an adult in the living room with the TV off, though. There are TVs in every room in the house other than the kitchen and the bathrooms. My folks were a bit baffled when I took the TV *out* of our room.
Right now my husband is living back at our old house until he can find work down here, so I'm relying on my family to watch my almost 3 year old and my 14 month old so I can study, bathe, get out of the house, whatever. When they watch the boys, the boys watch TV (well, sometimes they ignore it, but cartoons are playing on it the whole time). And I've done my share of playing cartoons & watching random crappy stuff on TV for myself since I've gotten down here.
I'm not happy with the effects of this. My 14 month still hasn't said his first real word yet. He completely ZONES OUT when certain cartoons are on, and you can't get his attention if you try (he'll physically push me out of the way to see the TV). The other day when it was actually off he pointed at it and started grunting/crying until I put the Backyardigans on.
: My almost-three year old just asks to watch a lot of cartoons, which is annoying but not the end of the world.
Right now, they still entertain themselves just fine when it's off, but when it's on they frequently turn into completely passive zombies.
So, I guess what I'm looking for is...how do I deal with avoiding television when it's physically and culturally such a huge part of living in this house? How much a day is a reasonable limit for a three year old? Is it a really terrible thing if my 14 month old watches an hour of TV a day while I go to the gym? How can *I* avoid being sucked into marathons of Project Runway when there is this Giant Shiny Screen looming over me all day?