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Did you read our article, At What Age Should Kids Be Exposed To Technology? You should. Dave Parrack did a great job of compiling the results. Here’s the thing – kids going to introduce themselves to technology, and chances are it’s going to be when you aren’t looking!
If you’ve got kids, you know that if it blinks, beeps, or can have something shoved into it, a toddler will love it! They’re also fascinated by things going splash! Like your new smartphone into the toilet. So what’s a techno-parent to do to protect our gadgets from our rug rats? Even more importantly, to protect your baby from going bzzzt. Not to compare your furry family members to your naked-ape family members, but these same tips also apply to your cats, dogs, Korean pot-bellied Pigs, and other fauna. Take it from me, one puppy can cost you thousands and almost cost you your job. Here are the key areas to look at.
Parenting is War – Get a Helmet
LEGO landmines, bogs of barf, flying Ford Mustang dinky cars… it can be hell in the parent pit. Suit up for the show with the proper armour. Whether it’s a phone, tablet or laptop, do what you can to ruggedize your gear. If it’s good enough for the army then it might be almost tough enough for your pooper troopers. Some of the qualities that you want to look for in your cases include:
- impact resistance;
- screen protection;
- waterproof or at least water-resistant rating.
Ideally, find something that has the IP67 rating. This is an Ingress Protection rating that means the case or device is protected from dust entering it and can withstand short-term immersion in water between 15 centimeters to 1 meter deep.
There are several devices that have the IP67 rating before putting any cases on them. These devices tend to be a little (or a lot) more expensive than comparable devices without the rating, but they are definitely cheaper than having to buy three or four of the unrated ones. Matt Smith has featured a few of the Android IP67 choices in his article, Droid Braves The Elements: The 5 Toughest Android Devices You Can Buy Right Now. The added bonus of rugged phones is that they look bad-ass.
If you’re of the iPhone crowd, you can find IP67 rated cases as well. There are a few different manufacturers, so there are some style and colour choices available as well. Simple do a web search with terms such as IP67, iPhone, and Case in different combinations and see what you find. A good example is Lifeproof’s Fre iPhone case, which is actually rated IP68.
If you’re thinking you want a tablet that can take the baby bumps, you might want to look at Panasonic’s line of Toughpads. Panasonic has long been an industry leader in rugged laptops and made the next logical jump to tablets about 2001. The Panasonic FZ-A1 pictured here has an IP65 rating, which means dust-proof and able to withstand rain and spills, is probably sufficient for most of your emergencies. Just keep the toilet lid closed. I know what I’m talking about. Sure they’re a little more expensive, ranging from about $1100 and up, but again, you’d only have to buy the one.
Fujitsu introduced two entries into the waterproof/resistant tablet market at the Mobile World Congress 2013. One is an Android 4.0 driven tablet with a 1.7GHz quad core CPU and all the bells and whistles you’d find on a brand new Android tablet. The other is a Windows 8 waterproof tablet with the Atom Z2760 processor and a thickness of only 9.9 mm. That’s almost as thin as my smartphone! The Fujitsu tablets are also in the $1000-$1200 range.
There are also several options out there for rugged and IP67 rated laptops and notebooks. Again, I would point you at brands like Panasonic’s Toughbook, Dell’s , and a specialty rugged laptop brand Getac. These options start to get pretty pricey, so for your larger tech devices you may want to look at creating tactical obstacles to damage by diaper-drones.
Remove the Temptation – Cable Control
Women tend to get shorter haircuts after having their first child. If you’ve never noticed that before, you will see it everywhere you look now. There’s a reason for that – babies and toddlers love to pull things. Which corresponds directly to a tech gadget’s love of having power fed to it through dangly cords. The more cords there are and the more dangly and open they are, the more likely the little one will pull the cord and all your gadgets go boom! It’s a universal law similar to the one that states the more expensive a cable is, the more likely your puppy will chew through it. True story.
By using any and all of the tips in Tina Sieber’s article, 5 Ways To Clean Up Computer Cable Clutter Under Your Desk and Matt Smith’s, How To Conceal Your Computer Clutter: Same Cables, More Space you will be removing the temptation for disaster as well as sprucing up your place a bit. It’s a win-win no-brainer. That is the most trite thing I’ve ever written.
Seriously, look at these before and after pictures. Why wouldn’t you do some of these things? Zip ties are about as cheap a thing as you can buy and can instantly transform your situation.
A little planning and some creativity can almost completely eliminate the appearance of cables to babies and adults.
For your portable devices that you charge and disconnect frequently, look at getting a charging station or one of the induction charging solutions available today. That can drastically reduce the number of cables hanging around. These things are like ripcords for toddlers – clean them up! If you’re curious about how inductive charging works, check out Matt Smith’s great explanation in, What Is Wireless Charging & How Exactly Does It Work? Look, three devices, one cable. That’s a 66% reduction in risk.
Knowing is Half the Battle – Educate
Discipline is a tough word for new parents. It isn’t really as harsh as it seems. All it means is to teach, and to reinforce your teachings. As soon as your little bundle starts reaching for these things, you can start to teach them not to touch them in whatever way seems best to you. I have my methods and so does everyone else. Each child will also respond differently to different forms of discipline. It takes plenty of patience and love for your child to find that right way and to be consistent with it. Everyone involved in raising that child needs to be consistent with your way as well, for the best result.
This isn’t about your beloved gadgets, this is an unselfish act because it will ultimately protect your child. The added bonus is that it teaches respect for other peoples belongings.
The Take Away
It seems like a lot of work, but it’s no different than any other safety precautions you take part in daily. Once you figure out what is going to work best for you, stick to it. Make it routine. Once you’ve made it a routine, your kids will make it a routine to not go after your gadgets. That might be a bit optimistic, but they will go after them less and less. Nothings perfect, except your baby.
If you’ve got some additional tips or funny stories about your darling and devices, I’d really love to hear about it in the comments. Sometimes hearing from others makes our challenges easier to bear and can give us the sense of humour we desperately need in not-so-funny moments.