Anybody that says kids shouldn't watch too much TV is full of crap. I mean, I know there's some garbage on some of the channels (even the public ones) . . Teletubbies comes to mind . . but kids soak up this stuff like sponges. I think the key is that they more readily pick up the things you reinforce while you're watching it with them. If you watch Sesame Street, and you sit silently until until Elmo's World comes on, at which point you break into the song and dance and start jumping around like an idiot, chances are the kid will get excited the next time Elmo comes on. Pretty simple stuff, you don't need a degree in psychology to figure that one out.
Lily, who I'd say picks up and repeats about 400% more things from her environment than the average 2 1/2 year old, proved my point for me this morning at the park. She was climbing up the little rock wall thing, which is missing about 2/3 of its pegs and was still damp from the overnight rain. As she got to the top her foot slipped and she grabbed hold as she started to slide down the thing. Before I go any further, understand that this thing is about 3 feet long and the top is no more than 18 inches higher than the bottom, so she was in a grand total of zero danger. Because she doesn't ever shut up, it took me a minute to re-focus on the words coming out of her mouth as she hung on for dear life and her volume shot up precipitously. She was looking over at me yelling "ayúdeme, ayúdeme!" For those of you who aren't ardent fans of Dora or fluent in Espanol, ayúdeme is Spanish for "help me". Are you kidding me right now? I have occasionally repeated one or two of the Spanish words with her . . abre means "open", azul means "blue" . . but most of the Spanish I could reinforce is stuff I learned from the cooks and dishwashers at the Ruby Tuesday, and she doesn't want to know how to say "take out the trash". I was floored when she busted out ayúdeme on me . . how smart is this kid? I'm bound to be far more impressed by this than most of you would since she's got my DNA, but you've gotta tip your cap to the people who make these cartoons too. They put these shows together knowing that kids learn from the repetition and reinforcement, and I think Dora (and her cousin Diego) in particular are really good stuff. You say TV ruins their mind and gives them A.D.D., I say p'shaw!