I agree that not all television programs are inappropriate for children, but much of it is. I think the biggest problem for children is the amount of time they spend watching television. Watching television takes time away from physical activity, social development, and other needed life skills. I think many parent use the television as a form of babysitting and this is not appropriate.
I'll take Akannan's statement one step further: television is, in our culture, one of the most powerful ways that our society's values and norms are passed on to our children (for better or worse.) A child who watches all different types of shows (not just educational ones) picks up on subtle social cues by watching the characters interact, dress, and respond to problems. In this way, kids who watch television will have an advantage in the "real world" because they will better understand the subtle norms of our society than their television-less peers.
I also have to say that Besure hit it on the head, though. Kids who watch too much TV are missing out on other things that are important to their development. The trick is figuring out how much is "too much?"
I have to echo the previous thoughts. I am not entirely certain that television on its own is entirely inappropriate for children. Like any medium, it needs to be have some control and some monitoring from parents. Television can give quite a few elements to children. Public television programs can be wonderful for early childhood aged children to gain much in way of understanding and knowledge at a primary stage of intellectual and social development. For example, "Sesame Street" is still one of the most profound educational programs that is on television. At the same time, children can use television to gain insight into the world through news and programs and understand different aspects of the consumer culture. It has to be monitored, but if understood in a proper light, television is one of many mediums that can enhance a child's world.
I do not think that all television is inappropriate for children to watch. There are many television programs that are very educational.
What I think is important here is the amount of time that a child actually spends watching television. It is unhealthy for a child to sit in front of the television for hours. In doing so they are not getting the exercise they need and they are also not getting the socialization they need either. They spend less time with family and less time reading and doing homework. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 watch no television and children over the age of 2 watch no more than 1-2 hours of television per day.
Another issue with television is that sometimes parents use it as a babysitter because they have other things they need to get done.
I do not think that television is entirely inappropriate for the children. It is true that some programmes are telecast which are harmful for the young children. But, not all programmes are like that. If carefully chosen and guided by parents or any elder, children can definitely get good help from TV shows.