I thought I wouldn't ever let her watch television on her own but she's able to turn on the main TV set, select a DVD, insert it, and push the play button. If it doesn't appeal, she can eject the platter and start again. The only way I can stop her using the set is by pulling the plug. She can switch on the mains power selector by experimenting with the outlets.
There is some intriguing evidence that background television interferes with toddlers’ ability to focus on play. We're not seeing that with Mia because she likes her Play-Doh, she enjoys drawing and she wants to dance by herself. But I know several people who are brain-numb from watching hours of TV and I can't help but think that passive addiction to moving images on a screen inhibits very young children's neurologic and attendant cognitive development.
But that stunted development is probably no worse than an adult addiction to an iPhone app or a babbling father's overuse of Twitter.
Elizabeth A. Vandewater, Victoria J. Rideout, Ellen A. Wartella, Xuan Huang, June H. Lee, Mi-suk Shim -- "Digital Childhood: Electronic Media and Technology Use Among Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers" in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, May 1, 2007.