I wanted to recommend two books that I have read. They helped me understand how watching too much television, playing too many games that really don't exercise your brain can affect the paths of your brain waves. It's amazing how certain parts of your brain will not grow strong if watching too much t.v.
When I talk about watching television I'm also meaning computer and gameboy type stuff.
The Plug-In Drug: Televisions, Computer & Family is one and another Endangered Mind: Why Children Don't Think And What We Can Do About It. We don't have to agree with everything in the books. They did help me to 'see' and made me think about the time I let my children watch television and what it is doing to my children's brain.
I have also read from a fellow homeschooler (would provide a link but you have to be a member to read it) recently that too much t.v. time can also affect children's eyes. The eye muscles need exercise. When your children are playing outside building forts, running, bicycling, climbing, drawing, playing the old fashioned board games they all help the eye muscles to build good vision.
At our house most week days the children don't watch television. In fact my children rarely watch cable. We use dvds because there is not many family, child friendly shows on cable. Even the commercials aren't child friendly.
Friday night we have movie night. The children will watch the movie again Saturday. We don't watch Saturday cartoons like when I was a kid. My four younger children don't even know who Big Bird is.
My children are allowed 20-30 minutes on the computer a day. They usually play Risk or are drooling over the items at http://www.visionforum.com/. Typically they are on the computer for about 3 hours a week. To me, that is a lot but it's far less from what the average child playing video games. Actual television time is about five hours or less a week for us. Again I think that is a lot when you add that up for a month. Like the computer it is far less than what the average American child watches which is four hours a day or more.
People have asked what our family does if we limit T.V., computer and don't own any x-box or gameboys etc. (We do have a Wii, that is used once a year maybe twice).
Boardgames that my children play are Clue, Sorry, Risk, Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders etc.
I try to purchase at least four 'thinking games' usually from http://www.timeberdoodle.com/. I hit 'puzzles, and than 'Logic' from there you can find lots of fun educational games. Some of my children's favorites are Pattern Play, Police Blockcade, ZooKeepers Nightmare and Rolit. All of them you can get at Timberdoodle.
We also listen to many audio book. My goal is to buy at least 4 audio books a year. I buy many of them at Christianbooks or Amazon. For CHRISTmas I purchased a Henty audiobook, Walk With A Wolf, Adventures in Oddyssey, Elsie Dinsmore, Jonathan Park, Sea Wolf and today I purchased Great Scientist and Their Discoveries. Not only do books help with vocabulary but also imagination. With television their mind doesn't even need to work at imaging how a character looks, like they do when they listen to an audio book.
My children play outside even in the winter. It can be 20 degrees or below. Let them bundle up and play. My children go on so many adventures.
Another benefit of limiting television; your children are not 'into' the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. I truly believe that children who don't watch a lot of t.v. are more content. They don't see all the commercials enticing them that they need a certain toy to have fun. T.V. can make any toy look like it will bring lots of 'fun' into their lives. Children don't need so many toys. Brent or Lance will make a spaceship out of Legos or forts out of blocks.
My children do not feel deprived because they don't watch cable. It's so normal for them not to have the t.v. on. They don't ask to watch cable t.v. because they don't know what shows are on. I'm glad that they are not watching all the junk that I use to. ('Saved by the Bell' did nothing for me but make me feel that popularity & beauty makes one happy. I didn't learn any good character traits from it)
I'm not saying we are perfect in this area. There are times when we do watch more t.v. than we should. It is important to Lupe & I to limit and we make an effort to keep t.v. time low.
We do watch extra for school or hobbies. Mostly dvds. Like when Josh, watches his knife throwing dvd or Measure Twice, Cut Once. When everyone is sick or if I'm really sick and need to keep the little ones busy.
Hopefully next month we will get rid of cable all together.
A big factor in limiting children's t.v. watching is dad. If he's not on board it makes it a bit harder to cut down t.v. time. I'm thankful my husband has never been one to sit and watch t.v. It's rare that you'll find Lupe, in front of the tube.