The post below regarding the effect of TV on children under the age of 3, and its increase of the risk of autism, generated a good bit of discussion for this blog. You may be interested to know that Stevie T--our resident expert on all things childhood development-related--has commented again, answering some of your questions. Some of us won't like it (just leave the tv off until the kid goes to bed). Use this post to continue that discussion, if you'd like. I know I'm interested by the topic, even if I can't make heads or tails of the report he links. They might as well just have one page with 2 words: "TV Bad."
Here's one thing I do know. The argument I've heard some make--not here but elsewhere--something like: "that can't really be true. If it were, my kids would be all screwed up"--is a logical fallacy of the highest order. The research shows that the risk of developing autism and ADHD is *increased.* Like smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Some people smoke their entire lives and never get cancer. That doesn't mean the cause and effect is disproven. The risks are increased - but not to 100%. There are probably many risk factors here - most of which we likely don't even know about.
Here's one reason this seems so important to me. Suppose it's true that the huge increase in autism and ADHD over the last 20 years can be completely attributable to TV exposure under the age of 3. With some education (and discipline), these are conditions we can practically eradicate, right? And in our lifetimes. How often does a big problem suddenly seem solvable? If we can just do that, and solve that pesky global warming problem...that wouldn't be a bad generational contribution to society.
Feeling optimistic today.