My family has a huge TV, like 46" in our living room. It is flat screen, LCD, high definition, cable, and some other random stuff I can't mention because I know nothing about the actual mechanics of TV and special things that all men like when they watch football or something (my dad, b"h is not into sports).
So, well, I've been raised with a TV. Not always such a big one, but there was always a TV. When we moved into the house, there were always TWO TVs and a computer (we've had a computer in the pre-mouse days).
My mother was ALWAYS on top of what we (my sister and me) watched. I wasn't allowed to watch Friends until I was 15. Mom let me watch it at 15 because she said they don't act as promiscuous from when the show first began, which I can tell, since I'm watching re-runs now all the time. I wasn't allowed to watch Will & Grace ever, and to this day, I can't bring myself to watch it, because I'm almost expecting her to turn the TV off. I mean, its not that mom was anti-gays or whatever, she knew I knew about homosexuality, it was just that the show, in her opinion was too dirty, and she felt that it wasn't something we should be watching.
Now, I watch whatever I want. I don't like it when my dad is in the room when I watch Gossip Girl (he calls it the tramp show) and the episode of Gilmore Girls in which Rory lost her virginity to Dean (who was married) was definitely not an episode I wanted my dad in the room for. But whatever. Life happens, and my parents (mostly mom) were always aware of what I was watching, and always spoke to us about what we were watching. I never liked One Tree Hill because I felt it was too slutty and dumb to even bother getting into. My mom never prevented me from watching it, it was a decision I made on my own, because I didn't like the first few episodes. When girls in my school would ask me to tape it for them, I would, but it really bothered both me and mom that the girls were watching it, probably without their moms even knowing.
A 10 year old at my shul watches South Park and Family Guy which really bothers me. I cannot understand what his parents are thinking. The shows are way too crude for anyone under the age of about 16.
If frummies tell you TV is dirty, tell them to just censor it. They would not only prevent their kids from seeing things they feel they shouldn't be seeing, but be practicing good parenting skills.
About TV being a waste of time...
My sister studied for her AP European History exam by watching a show on the History channel with my dad. She said the show was an exact replica of what was in her notes. She got a 4 on her AP!
I used to babysit an awesome little 3 year old. His mom used to let me watch an hour of TV with him (which is two-TV shows). Usually at least one show was Curious George. When I was watching with him, there were almost always questions.
In one episode George deflated a soccer ball and wanted to buy a new one. He thought about how he would make money, and decided to have a lemonade stand. To this, the three-year-old asked "what is lemonade?" So I said "well, it's kind of like juice made out of lemons" He was like "Like apple juicy?" And I said "well Apple Juicy is made out of Apple's" So he goes "oh, so like Grape Juicy?" And I said "no, grape juicy is made out of grapes" and he listed about 3-4 juices until it hit him that juice was actually the juice of a fruit. TV made him curious to ask the question to learn something from it.
Then there was another episode where George was watching a squirrel hide acorns by digging them up in the ground. The acorns were either eaten later, or ended up sprouting and growing into new trees. A few weeks later, 3-year-old and me were taking a walk, and a squirrel was digging in the ground, and the kid goes "He's probably looking for a nut! And if he doesn't find it, it'll just grow into a tree! Right?"
Well, there was no way he didn't get THAT from the TV!
Obviously too much TV is bad. No one is advocating a no-sensor, 12 hour TV marathon for their kids. But with some TV and some nice good shows, your kids get to relax and possibly learn something.
Funny story about the 3-year-old. I was once babysitting him after his grandmother was with him the entire day. The kid took off his socks, and I was like "why are you taking off your socks, are you hot?" And he giggles and says "No, I'm being intimate"
I walked away and started cracking up. Then when his mom came home she was like "he was probably watching soap opera's with my grandma, and seen something" And the kid ran into the room and overheard the use of the word "intimate", and as a good mom, so he wouldn't remember the word (why should he, he's three) she said "Entenmanns, did you think about having something by Entenmanns?"
So yea...With good parents, your kid could probably even get away with the occasional soap opera. While I wouldn't recommend that, I don't think one should blame the TV for all the problems for something that clearly should just have been censored by a parent/guardian.