I've always tried to be careful about what I let my daughter watch or read. I let her watch zero t.v. in the first year. After she turned one I started letting her watch Baby Einstein, followed by Sesame Street, Little Einsteins, Muzzy, etc. I even steered clear of certain Disney movies throughout pre-school and I've been very cautious about her book choices until now. She thought the "F" word was "freak" until she was nine. But we can only do that type of frantic monitoring for so long for two reasons: it's impractical and it's counterproductive.
It becomes impractical, if not impossible, at some point to monitor EVERYTHING because you simply won't have the time, especially as she gets involved in more activities and chooses books with too many pages for you to preview. And it's counterproductive because as she gets older, there will be times that you won't be there and she will need to think for herself. She will be at the homes of friends watching movies or t.v. shows you may not have chosen for her. She will be in the car with parents who do not censor their music choices or the language they use in front of their children. She will find herself a part of conversations with peers who have heard LOTS of things she hasn't heard. At some point as she nears the teen years, you just have to let go a little or you will compromise her ability to grow into the girl you have done your best to help her become. So what is a concerned-mom(or dad)-who-wishes-she-could-but-knows-she-can't-shelter-her-daughter-forever to do?
You have to watch with her. Read with her. Ask her questions. Seems obvious, but too few parents do this. Watch a kids' sitcom together and ask her if she knows any friends who gallivant around town looking perfectly manicured with plenty of time to go to school, work in a clothing store, have a full time career modeling or dancing or acting or rocking, and who live in an impeccably kept home with a 40x40 foot bedroom and never see their parents or any responsible adults. These shows portray lives that do not exist. They're not real. It's fiction. And it's important that your girl knows this, so plant those seeds. Lay the foundation as early as possible for her to understand that what she sees on t.v. is not real and she will be much better equipped to ignore rather than emulate the glorified promiscuity and glamorized drinking and drug use she will see in the media in years to come. And as you watch with her, you will see her reactions to things that clash with the values you've instilled in her.
While watching a movie together the other day, I was proud to watch my daughter's jaw drop in response to the father telling his son that physical activity was a complete waste of time. I had to laugh at her reaction - she was sincerely appalled that a father would say this to his son! I was pleased that clearly, our daughter has internalized the message from us that her health and physical fitness is important.
So do not ever forget that they're watching...the world around them, their peers, ridiculous t.v. shows. But what will shape them more than anything is what they see when they're watching you, especially when you encounter together something that does not mesh with your values. In these moments, do your best to remain graceful so that she will learn to do the same.