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Ask Slashdot: Skype Setup For Toddler's Room? 302

Posted by timothy
from the long-distance-day-care dept.
New submitter mmmmdave writes "My parents love to Skype with my kid. My kid loves to mash laptop buttons and drool on the screen. And because we don't want to spend forty minutes every night holding the laptop outside of baby arms' length, we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy. I'm sure there's a much cheaper option than sticking an iPad on the wall; what's more, non-touchscreen is probably better, so my daughter can't hang up the calls. Any ideas?"
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Ask Slashdot: Skype Setup For Toddler's Room?

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  • what......? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aryden (1872756) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:18PM (#40006369)
    40 minutes of your parents talking to your baby daughter every night? I can't imagine that. Is your last name Focker?
  • lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:20PM (#40006391)

    this must be the lamest ask /. I've ever seen.

    If only you could buy a box, that when plugged into a computer and peripherals, was just like a laptop, except it didn't use batteries and wasn't portable and was cheap. Why, I bet you could place a technological marvel like that on a desk, instead of on a lap like a laptop. I'm sure marketing can come up with a good name like the ideskbook or the desk-ster or the e-mini-desk or the deskr or maybe the socialdesk or something like that. Hmm like a laptop but instead of sitting on a lap it sits on a desk... what could that be called... Naw I got nothin' Sorry. Good luck dude!

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:29PM (#40006529)

    wall-mounted monitor + webcam

    Mount a LCD monitor on the wall or put it out of arms reach of the kid on a dresser with a webcam and some cheap PC speakers. Put the computer farther away using a 10ft VGA/HDMI cable.

    Why make it so complex, does your toddler really need to touch the screen?

    Also, nothing like exposing your kids to the benefits of watching TV when they're still in the crib. Instead of TV being the "new babysitter", it'll be skype.

  • Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ u b e r> on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:29PM (#40006537) Homepage Journal

    we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy

    So, um, grab a monitor and a webcam, and mount them to the wall...

  • by CMYKjunkie (1594319) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:31PM (#40006569)
    I can think of no better example of a first world problem than this!!
  • Re:Parenting? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:34PM (#40006611)

    You must not be a parent. The parents *are* there. The OP mentions holding the laptop. You try holding a laptop in front of a child and see what happens. I bet they spend more time hitting buttons than interacting with the people on the screen. Because this is what my kid does too. This is the problem the OP is trying to solve. A parent saying "don't touch that" and restraining hands isn't much fun for the kid. A setup that has the hardware transparent to the kid will be fun.

    I'd go with a TV displaying from the laptop and webcam mounted on top of the TV. I have been meaning to set this up for my kid, but have stalled (it's the in-laws that skype, not my family :P) Maybe get an older HD CRT that is safer for the kid to touch. (Our kid manhandles our CRT TV all the time, and it's fine.) I don't know if you'll want a 20' display cable (HDMI or VGA), or something wireless. I'd try VGA because I have that option and it's cheaper. The cable itself won't be too interesting across the floor, so I imagine you don't need to route it all fancy. At least, that is what I have been planning to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:37PM (#40006651)

    Son. Of. A. Bitch. This is the second time in two days I've clicked on a slashdot link to read the comments, hoping desperately that it wouldn't be full of the usual dreck, only to be disappointed. I was hoping that somebody would have something useful to suggest, since we also have a toddler that would love Skyping with his grandparents but that we can't use a laptop with because he'll button-mash all the settings into something unusable. The plexiglass could be a good possibility, perhaps a setup to protect the keyboard so he can see the screen easily but can't actually *get* to the trouble-causing buttons.

    But for the rest, we get jokes about putting the baby in a box, combined with complaints about how the OP is a horrible parent for wanting to let their kid talk to the grandparents every night. OMG! Parents actually want to help extended family to be involved with their child! Call the cops immediately!

    This happens every time I click on a slashdot comments link, it seems. Why aren't all of you people over on reddit or 4chan or something; I thought it was generally accepted there that having absolutely NOTHING to contribute on a topic but doing so anyway was considered a badge of high honor?

  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:40PM (#40006699) Homepage

    There are a lot of 1984/Truman Show/No Real Parent posts on this thread. Folks, understand that for some families, grandma and grandpa are a time zone away at best, and a grandkid is lucky to see her grandparents in person once a year, if that. Skype/videophone is a fantastic way to help bridge that gap. My parents can read our daughter stories. My wife's parents can sing songs with our daughter. They can see each other and interact in ways that you just can't do over the phone or with text.

    Our kid is lucky--she gets to see each set of grandparents in person about twice a year. For the stretches between those times, though, she can still visit with them over Skype. It's far from perfect, but it's a huge leap ahead of a phone call, and helps all sides of the family feel closer.

    You wouldn't mock people for calling their parents to let their kid talk to grandma and grandpa over the phone. Why the special hate for the extra level of closeness?

  • Jesus.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gallondr00nk (868673) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:41PM (#40006711)

    Is this what passes for Ask Slashdot submissions these days?

    Buy a cheapo TFT new or second hand and mount it on the wall if you want. Buy a $10 webcam, do likewise. If you can't manage that, what the hell are you even doing here?

  • Re:Parenting? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:49PM (#40006807)

    Put the laptop on a table, out of arms reach and hold the child on your lap. There. Problem solved. No need for restraining of hands, you just hold the child on your lap as you would any other time.

    But from the summary, thats not what the parent wants - he wants to stop several very easily prevented actions, such as touching, ending the call accidentally, drooling on the devices etc. All of those things would not happen if they were there supervising the child during the conversation.

    Again, spoken like a non-parent. I have yet to see a child that wants to be held on a lap. Children naturally move about and interact. Supervising (parenting) involves watching the child, not preventing them from interacting. You actually *want* your child to move and interact, just like a real person. But, you want to steer them away from interacting with the parts that'll spoil the interaction.
    In practice it's a challenge to prevent actions without treating the child like an object. You can either try telling them 40 times "don't touch that, look at grandma", or you can move "that' out of the way so the only interesting interaction for the child is the appropriate one. I still agree the OP has a good question, though the solutions are probably simple trial-and-error hardware approaches.

  • Re:Parenting? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psmears (629712) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:50PM (#40006813)

    Put the laptop on a table, out of arms reach and hold the child on your lap. There. Problem solved. No need for restraining of hands, you just hold the child on your lap

    Something tells me you've never actually tried this with a live toddler. That, or you were using a different model of toddler to the ones I've encountered...

  • Re:Parenting? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:54PM (#40006861)

    Kill the kid. Get a goldfish instead. Problem solved.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:54PM (#40006865)

    If you are anti apple, ...

    Then he needs to get a grip. The same to the anti Microsoft people and everyone else who's "anti" whatever. It's just so ... adolescent.

    Yeah, people with any sort of idealism should just give it up and go with the flow. Idealism is for adolescents. You have a philosophical problem with Apple? Just get a grip, Apple is not going to go away. You're against religion in schools? Just get a grip, religion in schools is here and is not going away. You think there's not enough religion in schools? Just get a grip, there's never going to be religion in schools and that's not going to change. If you're not satisfied with the status-quo, well, just get a grip because it's never going to change.

    Imagine how much better things would be if no one had adolescent idealism and just accepted things as they are even if it goes against their personal beliefs, especially if their idealism is different than my own.

  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:07PM (#40006997) Journal

    Point taken, but I think the submitter just wants to enable ~40 minutes of Skype no more than once a day, not turn the kid into a crib potato watching reality TV for hours on end.

  • by twistedcubic (577194) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:29PM (#40007267)
    These studies largely ignore confounding factors, and are useless as a result. A kid who spends large amounts of time watching tv doesn't do homework. The tv watching isn't the cause. A student who spends lots of time playing basketball and does no studying has the same result. We could also conclude that playing basketball affects mental ability as well. A better study: compare students who study the same amount of time, but watch different amounts of tv.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:36PM (#40007335)

    You know, not all grandparents are within driving distance of new parents. My parents live on the opposite coast of me, a couple thousand miles away. My friends have parents who are a few hundred miles away. It's not really an option all the time to have them come over and interact directly...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:49PM (#40007493)

    What is wrong with a technical solution to a social problem? Skype works great for people who can't move _and_ view grandparents are important. Next you are going to tell me to stop spending nights in my backyard with a telescope because "if stars and planets are supposed to be such an important part of your life: move".

    See how stupid it sounds?

    Stop telling people how to live their lives based on your own priorities.

  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:05PM (#40007695) Homepage
    My grandparents also lived far away as a child, and there was no Skype or internet to chat over back then. I talked to them occasionally on the phone, and sometimes wrote them letters or postcards. And miraculously, all that were involved turned out just fine. You don't need to see your grandparent's faces every day as a child. You don't need to see your parents faces every day as an adult. My father currently lives several thousand miles away, and that is ok. We are both just fine living our lives independently from each other, and the fact I don't talk to him every day doesn't weaken our relationship.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:22PM (#40007983) Homepage

    You wouldn't mock people for calling their parents to let their kid talk to grandma and grandpa over the phone.

    Yes I would, if they do it for 40 minutes each day. If the grandparents are supposed to be such an important part in their lives: move. If you say that it is not possible, it is because you have other priorities and being near the grandparents is a lower priority.

    What you are looking at is a technical solution for a social problem.

    One set of grandparents live in Washington State. Another set of grandparents live in Iowa. Even if we were able to pack up and move, we can't live in two states at once.

    I agree with you very earnestly on one point: there are all sorts of things that responsible adults need to balance in their lives, and living close to family is one of those things. My wife and I have other priorities in life that we work to balance against, with one in particular being of note: my wife just spent seven years working her fingers off to earn a Ph.D. in biochemical, molecular and cellular biology. As wonderful as it would be to live close to either set of grandparents, neither set lives in an area with a strong presence in the biological sciences. Thus, to move closer to one set of grandparents, my wife would need to essentially abandon a decade's worth of highly specialized, extremely valuable learning. This would be an enormous waste of time, money, work, and talent, and it isn't something we're eager to do. Even if we did decide to abandon her career, though, we'd still be stuck half a continent from the other set of grandparents.

    So yes, we Skype as a family with grandma and grandpa for long periods, several times a week. It's a suboptimal solution to a problem with no optimal solution; no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to avoid having to Skype with the grandparents. You are, of course, free to judge us for the decisions we've made, as is your right. For my part, I'll probably continue to call you out as a sanctimonious, simple-minded ass who would rather denigrate the lives and choices of others than grant other grown adults the benefit of the doubt and start from the premise that they're not whiny, spoiled idiots.

    As is my right.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:27PM (#40008065) Homepage Journal

    Exposure to TV/Computers is dangerous for kids because synapses develop incorrectly: Because of the incorrect audio/video synchronisation and the lack of feedback

    But they'll have the feedback here, grandma and grandpa. This isn't a TV or computer, it's a picture phone. Completely different than what was studied.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @06:45PM (#40011151)

    Yeah, when my parents were raising me, there was no internet
    When my grandparents were raising them, there were no baby monitors
    When my great-grandparents were raising them, there was no electricity

    It's called progress. No, it's not necessary. Yes, it's nice to have. No, the fact that it's not necessary doesn't mean the OP shouldn't try to have it.

  • by 16Chapel (998683) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:06AM (#40015691)
    Oh, fuck off. Maybe it's NICE for grandparents to be able to talk to their kids, even though they live thousands of miles away. I've started skypeing with my mother-in-law (who lives on the other side of the Atlantic), and it's great that she can coo over her new grandchild. It wouldn't be emotionally scarring if she didn't, but it's great that she can.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."