SILVER SPRING, MD, November 4, 2012 ― What did parents do before our modern day electronics? Life must have been so much…easier? Buttons are natural baby magnets. Parents did not have to worry about phones being accidently dropped in toilets, documents being lost by babies accidently rebooting computers, emails of gibberish being sent to unsuspecting victims, music or apps being purchased by a baby who loves to mash buttons.
In our modern, wired world, our gadgets are a part of our lives. But while we cannot live without them, somehow the convenience they once afforded has become a major inconvenience when a baby is around. While you may have outlet covers on your sockets and locks on all your cabinet drawers, have you been able to protect your electronics?
There is just something about an actual button that just begs a child to push it. Other than the power button, there are also buttons to open CD and DVD drives, and open ports for USB drives, all of which just beg little fingers to explore them. Aside from just sticking their fingers into holes, little ones also like to stick whatever they can into open spaces, which puts the USB ports in danger of damage.
If you still have a desktop computer and have not given up in favor of a smaller unit, a child safety PC guard can help shield computers from little fingers by covering the front of the machine and protecting all of the components that would otherwise be tempting and easily damaged.
Smartphone or iPod cover
With the way our phones light up with brightly colored icons, ringtones that are more dance songs than ringers, and video on demand, is it a surprise that little children want to play with them nonstop? You need to think about protecting your investment. After all, the cost of the average smartphone is no drop in the bucket.
However, we are not talking about one of those stylish, thin cases you get from your cell phone provider that is designed to take the brunt of the occasional accidental drop, but rather a heavy duty case made with the type of abuse a baby can deal in mind. These are not for continuous use. You are not going use this when you need to talk on the phone or slip it into your pocket when you leave the house, but a baby-proof case can help prevent cracked screens, scratches, ground up cookies in your speakers, and other types of baby hazards. Fisher-Price makes a fabulous over-sized baby case that allows your little one to interact with the screen but protects it from everything except water immersion. They also make a larger version for the iPad.
TV button shield
If you do not have a wall mounted TV or one that is on a stand out of reach of little hands, you might find your television shut off in the middle of your favorite program. Safety 1st makes a clear plexiglass control panel shield that covers the buttons on your TV, but does not block signals from your remote.
Also, do not forget to anchor your TV to prevent it from being pulled down onto your child. If you cannot anchor it to the wall, you can buy cloth anchors that strap the television to the back of a TV stand or entertainment center.
Once in place, your little one will not be able to reach up and hit the button or tip the TV over. However, you will have to remember where you hid the remote.
DVD player guard
Even though most DVD and Blu-ray players do not have big three-dimensional buttons that stick out begging to be pushed, they still attract young children. The glowing power icon draws attention to itself just begging to be touched. Aside from turning a player on and off, babies will also press controls that start, stop and open players, which if not done in the proper order can damage the machine and or a playing disc.
Like the TV shield, Safety 1st makes a smaller version for your DVD player.
Aside from the inherent allure of a stick covered with buttons to push, remotes light up and cause response from electronics and sometimes from mom or dad if the channel is changed at the wrong time. They also have batteries in them, which not only pose a choking hazard, they can also leak dangerous chemicals if damaged. While there is no one sure-fire fix for all of these problems, here are a few options to try.
Find an old remote to something that you do not have any more: an old TV that was thrown away, an old stereo decommissioned in favor of an iPod powered boom-box, the old VCR remote. Not only will it not accidently change your channel, there are no batteries in use to worry about.
However, if your little technophile has caught on to your trick and an unresponsive remote will not do., try using clear packing tape across the back of the remote to keep the battery cover in place. If channel changing really becomes a problem, you can always slip a thin piece of cardboard behind your TV guard to keep the signal from getting to the sensor. It will make you take a few trips to the TV when you want to change the channel or turn it on or off, but if you are watching a movie or a football game and do not want to miss a thing, it might be worth it.
Remember, children learn from experimenting and the experiences they have. One of the reasons today’s kids seem so much more knowledgeable about our gadgets, electronics and computers is because they grew up with them, and that early button mashing is part of the learning process. So do not scold your child every time she seems interested in a device. Rather find a way to protect it, then include her exploration in your life.
Follow Brighid on Twitter at @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.
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