I know there are a lot of strong feelings towards letting children watch TV. Some people think it's great, some think it's harmless, and some parents think it rots kids' brains. Personally, I'm not too concerned about my daughter watching TV. I ultimately have control over what (and how much) she watches and I sit with her so we can talk about what she watched. I've also noticed that even after I've turned the TV off, there are some benefits to her watching her shows.
1. It sparks her imagination. My daughter loves Doc McStuffins. For Christmas she was so excited to get a stethoscope just like the one from the show. Her princess castle is now a toy hospital. She gives checkups to her stuffed animals and baby dolls. She had a doctor's kit before, but it was Doc McStuffins and her crew that inspired her checkups.
2. It lets her explore her interests. My daughter's world is rapidly expanding. She is discovering numbers, colors, and shapes and it's all very exciting to her. Of course we practice all of these new concepts together, but TV gives her different place to explore these ideas in imaginative ways that I can't. Right now she is enjoying the show, "ABC Galaxy". Captain Giggs and First Mate Hugs travel the galaxy exploring new letter planets that they find. As much as I would like to take my daughter on a trip across the ABC Galaxy--I can't. I don't have a spaceship and jet fuel is expensive. But TV allows her to explore the alphabet planets anyway.
3. It reinforces important social concepts. Just this morning, on our way to daycare, I talked with my daughter about how Daniel Tiger from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood handles being angry. He takes a deep breath and counts to four. My daughter has been experiencing a lot of meltdowns lately, so we made sure to practice several times so she could remember--even when she was angry. Because she saw this helping Daniel Tiger in one of the episodes, she's more willing to try it than if I had just instructed her to breath and count. Plus, Daniel Tiger has cute little jingles that go along with each of his lessons which helps them to stick in her head.
4. It grows her vocabulary. I don't expect her to become a walking dictionary because she watches TV, but when my toddler tells me, "Mommy, I have a diagnosis!", you can't help but be proud. I talk to my daughter a lot. We read stories together and sing songs in the car. But there are words she hears in shows that I just can't work into a normal conversation--like when the Kratt Brothers talk about "photosynthesis" or "bioluminescence".
4. It lays the groundwork for 'creative cooperation'. Okay, so maybe this isn't the best reason to let your kids watch TV, but it's still helpful so I'm going to share it. My daughter loves "Frozen". A lot. But there are other things she's not so fond of--like having her hair done. But if instead of braiding her hair I give her "Elsa Hair", she will patiently stand and let me brush and braid her hair. And she didn't really like her black boots, but after she saw a picture of Anna wearing boots, she now loves her "Anna Boots". Parents, it's not what you ask for, it's how you phrase it.
I don't expect the television to raise my kid, but there's no reason why it can't be a tool for me to open up her world!