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Toddler-Proof Your Computer
by Howard Richman of Sound Feelings Publishing

Mommy Nature's Preschool Blog

These free tips from Sound Feelings show simple steps to prepare computers for toddlers or young children. This tutorial is for toddlerproofing or childproofing your hardware but at the same time it will give kids an incredible opportunity to develop computer literacy. Some people may want to customize a dedicated PC just for toddlers and this free information will show you ways to make this technology baby safe.

  • The following suggestions are things that I personally did for my two-year-old, Oliver, (in 2002) with wonderful results
    Howard Richman

Create Shortcuts for Commonly Used Programs.

        Create shortcuts for programs that toddlers will frequently use and place these shortcuts on the desktop. To create a shortcut, find the icon that starts the program itself. Right-click it and choose “create shortcut.” This saves the shortcut icon in the same folder as wherever the program icon is located. Then drag this new shortcut icon to the desktop. Repeat this process on all programs that you want him or her to have access to. By the way, of course you can purchase “toddler software,” but right on the system are two great programs that you already have, that you should make shortcuts to: “word pad” and “paint.”

Create a Shutdown Shortcut.

Get a Large-Key Keyboard.

        The toddler keyboards. There are many companies that produce large-key keyboards. The one that I recommend the most is called BigKeys, from AllegroMedical.com. The reason I feel that they are the best is that they have eliminated a lot of the keys that would only confuse the young person. Also, they give you the option of traditional “qwerty” layout or “abc” layout. (You can switch the configuration later if you change your mind.) They have many different variations, including plain and colored. Make sure you select the “pull-down” menu on their site to see all the product options.

Get a Small Mouse.

        The toddler mouse. The best company that produces a variety of smaller mice is Li’l Hands in Coquitlam, BC, Canada (604) 468-9577.
        The “Tiny Mouse" is a computer mouse designed for Li'l Hands; it is about half the size of a typical adult mouse and is appropriate for children 2 - 5 years of age.

Remove Desktop Clutter.

        Many of the icons that are a natural part of the Windows desktop have no relevance to a two-year-old. Most of these can be right-clicked and removed by selecting “Delete.” These might include, but are not limited to “My Briefcase,” “The Internet,” “Internet Explorer,” (Don’t remove this if you are using the computer yourself, but if you have a dedicated computer for your toddler, do you really want him or her on the internet at this age?)

        Some of the icons cannot be removed by selecting delete. I discovered some tutorials that will show you exactly what to do by tinkering with the Registry to remove them.
        To delete “Neighborhood Network,” go to:
        www.wown.info/j_helmig/delnethd.htm
        To delete “My Documents,” go to:
        www.winguides.com/registry/display.php/962/

Make Things Bigger and Bolder.

        Right-click the desktop and choose properties. This takes you to the “Display Properties” window. Select “Appearance.” Select various “Items.” and choose a bigger size than normal, and for text-based items, choose “B” for bold. Please note that the above recommendation is different than changing the screen resolution. Try to keep the screen resolution at the highest setting. When you choose a lower setting for screen resolution, it appears to make everything bigger, but the quality is much much worse. The above suggestion is the way to make things bigger but keep the image quality high.

Program the Mouse for “One-Click” Operation.

        Young hands are just developing their ability to coordinate and it’s amazing that they can even drag the mouse to the desired icon. When they click the mouse, it often will move, making it impossible to “double-click.” This setting will allow icons normally requiring a double click to be opened with a single click.

        Right-click the desktop and choose properties. This takes you to the “Display Properties” window. Select “Web.” Select “Folder Options.” An alert comes up asking if you want to close the other window and you should choose “yes.” Select “Custom” and click “Settings.” Select the following:

          -Windows classic
          -Open in own window
          -For all folders
          -Single click
          -Underline icons when I point

Get an Internet Filter if The Computer is Connected to the Internet.

        I don’t think it’s a good idea to give your toddler access to the internet. But if it’s unavoidable, you absolutely must get an internet filter. Net Nanny software is the newest and most advanced way to protect your family on the Internet. Finally, you can prevent access to inappropriate sites, limit the amount of time your children spend online, prevent them from revealing private information via email or IM, and generally control their entire Internet experience! Create separate profiles for up to 12 family members!

         

Get an LCD Monitor, If Possible.

        In the 60s, we were all warned about not staying to close to the TV. Now, as adults, we spend our lives in front of computer monitors, which are basically TV screens! It is a fact that the flat LCD-type screens emit much less radiation than the traditional cathode-ray type monitors. If you have the luxury of choice available to you, try to get one of these nifty screens for your toddler. I’ve done some research and you’ll get the best prices, best customer service and free shipping at Buy.com

Get a “Toddler Desk and Chair.”

        The height that you see in pre-school and kindergarten is what I’m talking about here. It’s not an exact height, but the combination of the lower table and lower chair make it so much more comfortable for your toddler to use. If you look for them, you can find them made of plastic, wood or metal. It’s important that they be sturdy.

Get a Windows Protection Program.

        The absolute best windows protection program is called ChildLock from Visionsoft in Bradford, UK. US telephone: 973-335-6969.
        http://www.childlock.com
        You don’t want the child to be getting into certain aspects of your windows setup which would be a nightmare to have to re-set. You can customize exactly which areas of the computer are accessible and which ones are off limits.

Add a New Drive or Create a Partition.

        If you use ChildLock (above) your computer will be protected from any alterations of folders that you assign. If you decide that the “C” folder should be protected (which is a good idea) then it will be impossible for your toddler to save any drawings or documents or any other creations on that drive. If you create a dedicated drive just for your toddler, then all of his or her activity can be stored here and if it gets erased, it won’t affect the workings of the computer itself.

        The best program for this is Partition Magic by PowerQuest. After you create the partition, you will see it in “My Computer.” Create a shortcut for this new drive and save it on the desktop. This will make it easy for the toddler to find his or her works. This shortcut will be called “E,” or “F,” or whatever drive letter was next on your system. Don’t change the actual drive letter, but you can rename the shortcut to “Joe’s Computer.”

 Recommended Software for Toddlers

        Click here to read more about Disney Learning Toddler at Amazon.com.        Click here to read more about Reader Rabbit Toddler at Amazon.com.        Click here to read more about Sesame Street Toddler at Amazon.com. 

        These tips were prepared by Howard Richman and are offered for free as a courtesy. Also, These suggestions are geared for PC computers. Unfortunately, many of the recommendations will not work on Macs.

        Please see his Music for Children. and Music for Birth healing music recordings.

        If you have found any of our free information to be helpful, please let us know! I’d like to publish comparable information for the Mac. If you come across relevant tips for the Mac and you care to pass them along, I’ll include them in future updates of these tips.
         

        Thanks!
        Howard Richman
        Sound Feelings Publishing
        18375 Ventura Blvd. #8000
        Tarzana, CA 91356
        U.S.A.
        Tel: 818-757-0600
        email
        www.soundfeelings.com

 
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