TV can either be bad or good or neutral, depending on a lot of factors.
1) Kids need age appropriate TV. Signs of age appropriateness: the kid pays attention and shows signs of understanding.
2) Kids need a model for watching TV. If you don’t watch seriously, the kid also will watch with half of their attention.
3) Foreground TV can be okay, but background TV interferes with all sorts of important activities, particularly play, sleep, language learning.
4) Passive TV is lousy for language learning.
5) Parents watching with children and pausing the TV for commentary is better than kids watching it just by themselves.
6) Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street Post-2002, Elmo, Mister Roger’s Neighborhoood, Dragon Tales, have positive
7) Age appropriate means age appropriate within one year. This is complicated by the fact that kids can mature faster than others (but not by mutliple years)
8) Educational TV, e.g. science, will be appropriate for a single grade, not a range of grades.
9) Adult TV, violent TV and TV that shows kids fighting, bullying, or using relationship aggression (even if it is to illustrate how *not* to behave) leads to kids copying that behavior, especially for the youngest viewers.
10) TV may have a role in children that are sick (e.g. with flu) or that have profound issues, like autism. In the case of kids in pain, the TV acts like anathesia. In the case of autism, shows like Thomas the Engine can help kids recognize facial expressions. Imho, this doesn’t really change issues 1 – 9, regarding always on & background TV.
11) On demand TV is better than broadcast TV.
12) Kids are lousy at realizing what is advertising. They are lousy and getting the “moral of a story”. They are lousy at dealing with stories that jump around with flash backs and flash fowards.