My wife and I make one important exception to the no-screen-time rule for our baby boy: video calls with Grandma (or with us, when we're forced to be apart). The problem is that a baby or toddler cannot resist grabbing the tablet/smartphone and thereby sabotaging the call (hitting the mute/pause/disconnect button, flipping the camera, angling the camera so it points at nothing....)
I'm looking for hardware solutions to the two problems: keeping a tablet or smartphone temporarily but safely fixed in place, and also preventing a kid from activating its touchscreen or physical buttons.
Solutions and parenting advice I'm not interested in:
- "Don't give a tablet to a baby, period." We get it. But video calls are the one exception, and they're important to us.
- Reasoning with or training the child. He's too young. For a few months it worked pretty well to just restrain him from reaching the device at all, but now he's old enough to see that as a battle of wills, and that's not how we want to use up our hard-won time-slots for transatlantic calls. At the same time he's not old enough to have fine control over where he grabs or to understand why he shouldn't grab. By contrast, if I could find a way to fix the tablet temporarily but securely to the bars of his play-pen, I think his initial frustration at not being able to move it would extinguish quite rapidly. Some things are just fixed, and he gets that.
- The "Guided Access" option on iOS. First, in recent versions of the OS, Apple have deliberately disabled it for FaceTime. Second, it's buggy, with a tendency to leave you trapped in Guided-Access mode with only forced-reset as an escape route. Third, it doesn't solve the problem of physically fixing the device. In fact, let's steer away from software-specific solutions altogether. Assume for the sake of argument that we want to contact multiple non-technical relatives, one of whom is comfortable with FaceTime, one of whom only uses Skype, one of whom uses Google Hangout, etc, and in all cases it's hopeless to try to teach them to use an unfamiliar app.
I'm sure a solution can be built from scratch using $15 worth of materials from a DIY store, but I have very little natural skill in that direction, and in particular would have a hard time placing my faith in the child-safety of what I'd made. Can anyone think of ready-made or extremely-simple-to-build hacks?