18 September 2006

Keeping your toddler off your keyboard

Here's how Chris gained five more minutes of computer time:

While using the laptop, from time to time I'd have my 1 year old son Alexander on my lap. That stopped shortly after Alex decided he wanted to "help" me type, but even recently Alex would struggle to get at the keyboard while I was on the PC.

I decided to give my son his own keyboard to play with. I simply took an old PC keyboard, snipped the cord, and shoved the leftover wire into the keyboard case. Just as a precaution, I removed each key, applied a bit of super glue and reapplied.

Now Alex doesn't need to use Daddy's keyboard - he has his own :)

Rotangus mentioned the same strategy in the comments of a post on dummy cell phones. Matt Haughey went a different direction; he installed Alphababy on his Mac and let his daughter have at it.

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Don't forget to include the mouse. My son is observant enough to know that a mouse is "required" while using the keyboard.

I tried this, only my son (now 14 months) isn't interested in the "play" keyboard. Anything slightly out of reach is far more interesting than anything we give him.

Unfortunately, this did not work with my daughter. She realized that there was no screen changing by her command. We tried it with phones, keyboards, and many other things...

Yeah, i tried this trick with my daughter. She's one as well - and she loves to bang on keyboards. Grandpa loves to ler her do whatever she wants, so it's a bit harder for me to get her out of the habbit. Unfortunately, "her" keyboard isn't good enough, and she discards it and comes back for mine. Oh well. :(

Tried that. My 18-monther knows the mouse is what I use to play games... eek! He knows a detached keyboard is a trick, and he ain't fallin' for it ;)

I do the same with my XBox controller. My almost three year old insists he has his controller and when i had to switch from my wireless one to the corded one he uses when the batteries went flat recently I was in all sorts of strife.

An old tv remote control also work great. Just remember to remove or tape/glue the battery cover before you give it to them.

We gave up with the fake keyboard early. If like us you upgrade computers every couple of years, you eand up with one or two you don't mind getting trashed. So the kids have two computers - one safe from the baby and one in the kids room. I think our oldest was about 2 when we first set up a celeron 400mhz, and when I bought my current computer last year, he got the old P3 750 mhz one.

The downsides to the fake keyboards, remotes, etc is that there is no penalty for trashing them, and they have no effect on the real world. I think kids like to manipulate their environments...

The "dummy" keyboard trick didn't last long. I use a program called ToddlerKeys. It locks the keyboard so the little mite can mash the keyboard all he wants, but I can still surf using the mouse.
It also locks the PC power button and CD-drive.

What an awesome idea. Why didn't I think of that.

We went a slightly differnt route. My son loved to "help" my husband on his laptop so when we saw a play laptop at a yardsale we snatched it up. It doesn't have batteries in it right now since hes too young for the letter and number games, but he still loves having his very own laptop to play with.

Thanks Jamie! - We downloaded ToddlerKeys and have found joy again. 13 month old can't freeze the computer and 2 1/2 year old brother can't open the cd-drive.

Great post. This is a cool site.

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