TiVo taught my kid to read
No, really. Before Luke could read, he could operate the TiVo remote and navigate the interface to choose his favorite shows. He looked at the list of recorded programs, noted the channel icon and the first letter of the show title (PBS Kids logo + "D" = Dragon Tales), then -- ba-boop! -- on came his show of choice.
TiVo is the biggest and best family TV hack there is. We're no longer hostage to program listings or broadcast times. When the kids have 30 minutes to watch TV, there are always at least three or four parent-approved options from which to choose, including more than one episode of their favorites. We zoom past all commercials, when there are any. The only live TV the kids can browse is rated G (everything else requires a secret code). No need for channel-flipping: TiVo is the gateway to all TV-watching, and we all like it that way.
For a few painful months we used our cable company's inferior TiVo impostor. Aside from its atrocious interface, this DVR had a nasty habit of displaying whatever was on the current channel while one navigated the list of recorded programs. Luke would turn on the TV to watch his requisite 30 minutes, and there, in the little picture-in-picture window, was something TOTALLY inappropriate for him to be seeing, even for a minute or two. No way to turn that feature off, either.
Thank God our TiVo is back. It's friendly and it makes nice ba-boop sounds.