If a child is going to watch, it should be in small doses (1/2 hour tops per day for under 18 months, 1 hour tops each day for under 4) and it should be worthwhile.
Some of the junk that passes for "children's TV" is really sad - "Yo Gabba Gabba" comes to mind. And some of the stuff that passes for "educational" is also sad - "Little Einsteins" comes to mind there.
But TV can expose a child to new situations, new words, new concepts. It can teach the alphabet (Leap Frogs Letter Factory DVD is great, it can teach sign language (My Baby Can Talk series), it can teach gentle life lessons (Barney). It can also harm (My Baby Can Read program and shows for older kids and adults.
The best way kids learn is through play with someone older - like you. If you do use TV (and I do), stick with PBS and a few Nick Jr. shows and try to watch with your child. Explain what's happening, help them follow the story and learn.
at 11:42 AM on Mar. 3, 2009