Toddlerproof iPad/iPhone cases?
July 7, 2010 2:58 PM   Subscribe

iPad and iPhone cases that cover the home key/button? Maybe an application? ToddlerProofFilter

My partner uses his iPhone and iPad as a ToddlerDistractionDevice when we're on an airplane or waiting in a very long line. Toddler likes to push the home key and that closes the program/video.

(If we were at home, we'd try to get toddler to understand the consequences of pushing the home key. Usually though, this is our last resort to keep him entertained, and we need that video to come back.)

Yes, we try holding the phone with our thumb over the home key, but we want a solution that we can prop the device up without us having to hold it.

Is there app or a case for this?
posted by k8t to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if you can get a silicone case (or something else stretchy) that covers the back and then wraps around the bottom and the sides of the phone, and then cut a piece of cardboard or something the width of the phone and the height of the bottom bezel that will cover the home button and wedge it in under the silicone. Not the most elegant... but might work?
posted by brainmouse at 3:08 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've got the 3G/3GS version of Speck's PixelSkin case, so I folded a piece of paper a couple of times and wedged it between the case and the phone. I wasn't able to push the button through it. Their iPad case also covers the Home button so I suspect you wouldn't have any trouble rigging something toddler proof with that either.

I like brainmouse's suggestion for use with a regular case. Maybe you could find a wide rubber band to run across the bottom of the phone and slip something underneath it to reinforce the button area.
posted by des at 5:36 PM on July 7, 2010

I make iPhone apps for toddlers. We had our first app under development before the app store opened, and I was very concerned about this problem. I felt that we needed to have some way to disable or redirect the Home key, to prevent toddlers from getting out of the sandbox and wreaking havoc with their mommy and daddy's address book, e-mail account, etc.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn't allow apps to do this. We put our toddler apps up for sale anyway as did hundreds of other companies, and somehow it has worked out.

There are certainly physical solutions that you can work out: .e.g. get a case that covers the bottom portion of the phone and has a hole for the home button, and then slide something underneath it to cover the home button. But I think in practice that's not necessary.

I think your best bet is to get a bunch of games as well as the videos you already have, and load them up on the phone, and show them to your toddler. If s/he is anything like the other kids I've observed, s/he will find those games much more interesting than your e-mail account. Kids who are under two are able to understand what the home button does; they can use it to navigate to the game they want to play; they frequently use the home button as the universal way to restart a game. (I got some feedback just yesterday from a beta testing mom that she doesn't like the fact that our apps support multitasking under iOS 4.0 because her child can no longer do this --- can no longer use the home button to back out and restart the game.)

You can, of course, keep an eye on your kid while they're playing to make sure they're not getting into anything they shouldn't. But you can also do that by just listening, too, so it's not to onerous. Plus, it keeps you involved in your child's play, which is a good thing.

There may be a physical solution to your question. If there is, I'll be very interested in knowing about it. But the fact that there isn't a well-known solution is further evidence that it usually is surprisingly unnecessary.
posted by alms at 5:38 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

alms: I have the same problem with my 13 month old as k8t does. My kid hits the home button in the middle of the game, sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose because she understand that it does *something*. then she gives the phone back to me to get me to restart the app, because she doesn't know how to do that (yet). If we don't restart it, she starts randomly pushing things and often enters random entries in my calendar.

I have a couple different apps (made by baby cortex) that provide ways to keep her from hitting buttons in the app itself that restart/bring up the menu/whatever. that's helpful. I wish apps would let you disable the home key, or require some kind of complicated sequence to exit (a la babysmash - which works on computers in that way and is great for letting the kid pound away harmlessly - but still making the computer do something).

Guess maybe we should complaint directly to apple?
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:29 PM on July 10, 2010

Also, k8t - invent the case, and profit, because parents will buy this.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:31 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

My kid hits the home button in the middle of the game... then she gives the phone back to me to get me to restart the apps.

And why is that a problem? The iPhone is a very entertaining toy but it's not a babysitter. It can engage and entertain and it can keep a toddler calm in a difficult situation such as a restaurant or airplane. But it's not a substitute for a human caregiver and shouldn't be confused with one.

Even if you covered the home button the toddler would have other ways to keep you involved in her playtime, such as throwing the iPhone across the room! I don't think you'd want that.

Guess maybe we should complaint directly to apple?

Yes, indeed. This would be a useful feature for all ages. I can imagine many teenagers who would like to hand their phone to a friend to play a game and would like to lock out access to other apps.

Here's Apple's feedback form.
posted by alms at 6:34 AM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Alms, I think that dpx.mfx aren't trying to ignore our kids for very long, but occasionally mommy/daddy needs to let kiddo play with it for 3 minutes versus 30 seconds in order to drink some water. :)

Yes, a BabySmash-esque Alt-f4 for exit would be perfect.
posted by k8t at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2010

dude, I'm not talking about letting it babysit her, and I'm confused about how someone who develops toddler apps for a living is insulting a toddler app user for offering feedback on how to make one potentially more useful.

Like k8t said, I need three minutes to drink water, fix dinner, go to the bathroom. She had other things she plays with all the time, but she loves the iPhone - she sees us using it so she wants to, too. And like I said, sometimes she ends up doing things we don't want done -- this morning I had an appointment for pppppppppppppppppppprisa scheduled at 10:30. Sure, I could just not let her use it at all, but why? I can get apps aimed at her; this is a function that would make it more useful to her and me.

It would be a nice function to have. Just like it would be nice if I could lock the screen rotation in every app like I can in the Kindle app.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:21 AM on July 13, 2010

Sorry, I didn't mean to insult anyone! I agree it would be a nice feature, and not just for toddlers. (If Apple adds this, my bet is that it will be more along the lines of extended parental controls, or maybe user areas for shared iPads. But it would still work for this purpose.)

It would be nice if I could lock the screen rotation in every app.

You can do this in iOS 4.0 provided you have a device that is recent enough to support multitasking (i.e. not an iPhone 3G or similarly old iPod Touch).
posted by alms at 10:35 AM on July 13, 2010

Hey, alms, thanks for that, I didn't know it was in the new feature set. (I've never swiped right!) Awesome.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2010

For future reference
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:15 AM on April 13, 2011

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