My husband and I both lived large chunks of our own childhoods without a television. We talked about it before we even planned on children of our own in any kind of concrete terms, and agreed: kids don't need to watch TV, and shouldn't watch it very often.
We managed to keep Sweet Pea TV-free until a month or so before our flight to Hawaii. My brilliant plan for entertaining her on the flight was watching shows on the iPod touch, so we started warming her up to the idea well in advance.
Somehow, between then and now we have progressed to her watching an episode of Sesame Street or Cat in the Hat on Neflix on demand (we don't have cable and only get a couple of channels) most days. How did this happen? As with most habits (and vices), it was gradual. She started asking for Elmo more often, and we started turning to it more often as something to occupy her while we cooked, cleaned, etc. Confession: I have even left her inside with the TV while I mowed the lawn (I used to carry her on my back in the ERGO while doing that, but she's not into it any more). I do check on her often, and our house is tiny so I can hear her call from any room, but I still feel guilty about this habit. I have a soft spot in my heart for Sesame Street, and I justify it to myself a little because we still haven't let her watch commercial TV - some of those commercials are just awful!
Note: Sweet Pea is two years and three months old and is highly verbal, active, and also likes to read books every day. Basically, where I'm at now is that I don't think our daily TV habit is necessarily a good thing, but it doesn't seem as bad as I used to believe.
Be honest - do you or would you let your toddler watch television shows or videos? Do you think there's a difference?