I know that according to all the experts TV is horrible and we should never, never, never let our children watch. But I also know that unlike the "experts" the rest of us live in the real world and television is a part of it. So yes, I admit that my kids watch more than the recommended amount of TV. Though when asked about this by the pediatrician, I have been known to respond "Yes, we try to limit the amount of TV," wherein limit actually means "We occasionally turn the television off in order to spend more time playing Wii."
I actually think kids can learn a lot from TV. My kids can tell you all about eating habits of the koala bear and why earthworms come out when it rains thanks to Wild Kratts. They're learning Japanese from Ni-Hao Kai Lan. Phineas and Ferb helps encourage their imagination.
But then there are the other shows. The annoying shows. The ones that I occasionally ban because I just can't stand to watch them anymore.
Like Dora. Always with the shouting and encouraging them to jump up. I know, I know... they're encouraging kids to get moving. But sometimes I have my kids sitting in front of the TV because I just want them to sit still for one. freaking. minute. And besides, who are these irresponsible parents who let her wander around on her own with only a monkey? What kind of example is this? On Halloween, she had to be in by midnight! That's quite a late curfew for a child her age. (I did have a bit of a revelation about Dora a couple of years ago that may explain a lot: http://5shields.blogspot.com/2009/03/after-many-years-of-watching-dora.html)
I can't handle Calliou because of his constant whining. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. I have to hit the mute button. (And besides, what's up with the bald head? Is he a cancer patient? Does he have alopecia? Have they seen a doctor about it? Why is it never addressed in a "very special episode" where Calliou is teased by the other children because he still has no hair at 4 years old?)
Angelina Ballerina is another one that kills me with the whining. Believe me, there is quite enough whining and crying in my house already without watching it on TV! But in every episode you are guaranteed that at some point Angelina will begin to sob and probably run off somewhere to fling herself down dramatically and cry. (Maybe that's where Haley learned this charming habit!)
We've learned that sometimes watching children's television requires a little self-defense. If you add your own internal filter to the show, it's a lot more interesting (or at least bearable) for adults to watch. For example, Special Agent Oso... if you assume that the special part is because the bear is part of a special education program, then you see why he needs help to do the simplest tasks. Now you can cheer him on instead of being annoyed that he can't do anything right. ("Come on! You really need 'three special steps' to open a door?")
Handy Manny... does anyone else hear the tools talking? Or is it only Manny? Maybe the rest of the neighborhood just humors him. ("He thinks the tools talk to him. Just go along with it, because he's the only handyman in town.") The show is a lot more interesting to watch once you have that in mind.
A friend just told me that they picture Calliou's father as a closet transvestite... I'm watching that show with new eyes tonight!