Ah, toddlers. Attracted to flashing lights, love pushing buttons, have short memories, and like to test parents. They hear you say no, but try again, looking directly at you to be sure you really meant ‘no’.
Oh, computers. Have flashing lights, lots of buttons, long memories, and shut down in chaos. They operate best with sequential and short commands, often asking if you really meant what you requested.
Computers (with lots of buttons) and toddlers (button-pushers) don’t mix. If you have both in your home, what can be done to keep your computer safe from toddlers’ investigating little fingers?
Location, Location, Location
The best and possibly easiest computer safety solution is to hide it behind closed doors. A dedicated room with closeable doors for a home office is now common in many homes, if there is available space.
When thinking “dedicated room”, it doesn’t necessarily have to be large. A closet will work. Even a cabinet will do, but must have adequate ventilation or your computer will overheat.
More often, computers are tucked away in a room’s corner, accessible to all family members. These can still be closed off with sliding doors, dividers, or other means to blockade access.
Place the computer above eye level and out of reach on a desktop or wall mounted shelf, which means get it off the ground. Be sure to utilize wall space and remove all toddler-climbing aids.
Covering the front of your PC tower is another option, especially if your toddler is playing nearby and wanders over to push a few buttons while you are focused on the screen or have stepped away. Attach a purchased or homemade PC cover with Velcro to hide buttons, lights, and slots. (One more reason I love my iMac….no buttons or slots on the front….nothing for little fingers to get into or push.)
Keyboard, mouse, printers, and other peripherals also need protection. Cover, hide, or keep out of reach using the same methods. Keyboards especially need covered or hidden….lots of buttons to pound and they don’t like liquids!
Laptop protection is simpler. Close top when not in use, but that doesn’t solve the biggest problem…..getting pulled off the desktop and dropped on the floor. If you don’t want to put the laptop away every time you walk away, use a docking station that is secured to the desk. You can still close the top to protect the keyboard and CPU underneath but it will not move when grabbed by little hands.
Secure Your Connections
Secure the toddler-reach zones you cannot move…you know, those below the desk where kids like to play when you are working. Clip, coil, or tie dangling cords together and run behind the desk, out of sight. Bundled cords are harder to pull out of sockets, from computer above or electric below. Cut a grommet hole in the desktop to drop bundled cords and add a “modesty” panel, if necessary, to hide from view.
Electrical outlets are hard enough to keep safe but power strips are worse. Place power strips inside a cover to protect cords from being pulled out and keeping fingers out of exposed sockets. If possible, wall-mount the strip, hiding it behind an (adult) accessible panel.
Keeping your computer safe from toddlers is a daily chore….but toddlers do grow up. This stage won’t last for long, unless you have a large family with successive toddlers in the house. Main point to remember with computers and toddlers is, out of sight and out of reach. They can’t push what they can’t touch.