One evil word: Advertising.
When we first started letting our first daughter watch TV, we let her watch PBS shows because we didn't have cable. As she started getting a little older, she started showing interest in "other" shows so, having fond memories of Saturday Morning TV as kids, we let her watch a few at that time. There was an immediate shift. Kids can't tell the difference between the show and the commercial - and she started begging/asking for stuff she otherwise wouldn't have known existed otherwise. You know how it works - corporations pay big bucks to advertisers to make you feel like you "HAVE" to have a certain product...or convince you that THEIR brand of whatever is the best. I been trying to be aware of my own reactions to advertising and they are able to get to me too.
On a recent car ride, my 5-year-old asked something about commercials. I wish I could remember what started the conversation, but I had the opportunity to explain how advertisers work really hard to make you feel like you need something. She started to understand! Now, whenever she sees a commercial and her first response is "We should get that!," I just say, "Really, why is that?" and she yells "Oooh, I've been ADVERTISED!".
As I've said before, I'm not advocating turning your TV into a fishbowl...BUT less means MORE "quality" time, time for cooking, talking, reading, letting them play by themselves...and LESS opportunities to be brainwashed by advertising.
(I promise to get back to the crafts soon ;-)