Children and Computer Parts Don't Mix

Computer cases are not child-friendly. Storing the computer safely out of reach (or at least out of site) is always a good policy. Of course, some accessibility is required to use the CD/DVD tray and any removable media readers. Random food or toys shoved in a floppy drive or compact flash slot will not make a computer happy. CD trays are especially vulnerable to being broken off by curious hands. My current HP computer actually locks the CD tray when the computer is idle, keeping the tray from opening without waking the PC back up by clicking on the mouse or keyboard. Small children aren't likely to figure out the combination of tapping keys and pressing the CD tray open button, if the two things are reasonably far apart. Few PC models support this sleeping state and will open the CD tray as soon as the computer power is turned on. For this reason, it's a good idea to keep the PC out of the path of small hands.

The newer flat screen iMacs look very child proof. The only exposed drive is a CD tray. No open button is visible on the surface next to the tray; it only opens from the keyboard. Apple doesn't lock the CD open key when the Mac OS X screen is locked. My nephew makes a game out of opening and closing the drive by pushing the CD open key on the keyboard. The only way to avoid keyboard access is to physically move the keyboard out of the reach of children. If you use a CRT screen, setting the keyboard on top of the monitor does the trick. Flat screens require a different strategy, like setting the keyboard on a high shelf (because there isn't room to rest a keyboard on the screen). Along with other advantages described below, using a wireless keyboard and mouse keep you from being limited by cord length when moving input devices out of reach.

Flat screen monitors

LCD flat screen monitors offer a variety of advantages for home office users not directly associated with child safety. The energy consumption from LCD screens is staggeringly lower than the power required by a CRT. According to a variety of sources, LCD monitors range in consumption from 25-50 Watts, while CRT monitors consume 70 to 150 watts in a 17 and 19-inch models. Reducing monitor energy consumption results in lower power bills, which will more than pay for the price difference between the two monitor styles within the first 12-18 months.

Less power consumption does not mean giving up screen brightness. In fact, LCD screens are almost twice as bright as CRT screens. LCD screens do not suffer from the magnetic interference problems associated with CRT screens, which means no wobbling in the image when your cell phone rings and no picture distortion when your computer speakers are too close to the monitor.

LCD monitors are much easier on your eyes. The flicker associated with CRT monitors results in eye fatigue and can be a cause of eyesight deterioration over time. This is true whether you work from home or not. Using an LCD monitor in your home office protects your eyes, allowing you to work longer without eye strain. Consequently, it also protects the eyes of your children, which will be exposed to many more hours of screen time than anyone born 1990 would ever have experienced.

In addition to saving your children's eyes, the big advantage from a child safety standpoint is the weight of LCD monitors. While you wouldn't want to drop an LCD monitor on your toe, the weight is considerably less than the weight of a CRT, which reduces the potential for injury to a child who tries to drag the monitor off the desktop.

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