The amount of TV Natalie watched as been a concern and source of guilt for me for about a year now. As Natalie has gotten older, she communicates more clearly and forcefully what she would like, and that includes TV. We have the TV on about 6 hours a day. Natalie goes through periods throughout the day where she is watching and when it is just on in the background. It is rare that she will just sit and watch without playing with something else for more than 15 minutes, even when she has been adamant just moments before about watching a particular show.
While I do wish we watched less, I have to give myself some slack. With a newborn, if the TV was off Natalie would probably crave my attention more resulting in me having to deny here more often. And, even if the TV were off, its not like I can just chase her around the house anymore or take her outside whenever. The TV being on isn't affecting how active she is, but rather it is my ability to engage her in those types of activities, which I often feel I can't while feeding, holding, and otherwise caring for William.
But what really allows me to feel alright about the amount of time the TV is on in our house is how we watch TV. First of all, we closely monitor what she sees. If the TV is on with her in the room, 99% of the time its tuned to a show for her. That means its a show designed for preschoolers with limited or no commercials. She isn't exposed to images or ideas that would be scary or confusing for her. To really ensure that, we watch what she watches. I've seen everything she's seen. Not only does that ensure that what she sees is safe, but I can then talk to her about what she sees both during and after the shows. Natalie talks about the shows she's seen all the time. If I didn't watch with her, I would have no idea what she is talking about half the time. She retells the stories to me, sometimes when something we are doing relates to something she's seen (like seeing a pine cone and talking about Rintoo's hat), other times at what seems random. We use the DVR, so we watch the same shows over and over. Natalie actually asks for specific episodes. Just like reading the same book over and over, watching the same episode over and over allows her to take in more each time.
What Natalie has learned from TV:
loosing teeth and the tooth fairy, Halloween, washing hands, emotions, family, trains, racing, skateboarding, shaking hands, tucking in, buckling seat belts, magic wands, pinwheels, dancing, friendship, kissing boo boos, birthdays, funny faces, pirates, cowboys