How To Protect Vcrs From Kids

It's easy to protect VCRs and other valuable electronic equipment from accidental damage with these simple childproofing strategies.

VCRs and DVD players are common fixtures in many homes. As young children are exposed to television and recorded programs, they become inquisitive and as a result, parents may be confronted with expensive repair bills. Quite simply, no matter how state-of-the-art a VCR may be, it isn't equipped to play a grilled cheese sandwich, and even the best-intentioned sticky fingers can, with one delicate touch, eradicate the hours spent programming a recording. To safeguard against such disasters, parents can use various childproofing techniques to protect VCRs and other valuable equipment.

Classic childproofing techniques are easy and inexpensive. Placing a VCR out of the child's reach, such as positioning it above rather than below the television set, immediately ends the threat of tampering. Many media cabinets have adjustable shelves that can accommodate equipment in different positions. If the cabinet has doors, the handles can be positioned high enough so the child cannot open them, though wooden or other opaque doors interfere with the use of remote controls. Locking cabinet doors are another solution, but can be inconvenient for frequently used equipment.

Hiding remote controls or placing them out of reach prevents children from experimenting with this hand-held toy, but be certain that the controls are easily accessible for parents. Unplugging a VCR or other electronic equipment will prevent kids from accidentally breaking delicate moving parts, but this tactic will not prevent anything from being inserted into the slot, and the VCR could not be used for delayed recording.

Parents can purchase a variety of protective products designed to keep curious fingers from accidental mistakes. A vinyl dust cover is the least expensive option -- it slips over the VCR, and foreign objects cannot be inserted into the slot. Because the front of the cover is clear, remote controls can be used to operate the machine, though the cover must be removed to insert and eject tapes. These covers are flexible, so it is possible for a child to press buttons even with the cover in place, and because there is no adhesive or other attachment, the cover can easily be pulled off by inquisitive hands.

VCR locks are tape-sized guards inserted into the tape slot. To remove them, side buttons must be squeezed or pressed simultaneously, often in conjunction with a central tab or button, a feat of coordination that foils most children. Locks that use side buttons are too large for a child's hand to span the distance and operate both sides at once. The downside of these locks is that the machine's buttons are not covered, and therefore children can still affect operation, even though foreign objects cannot be inserted into the slot.

A slightly more expensive type of slot guard is attached over the front of the VCR by velcro tabs. This plastic shield covers both the slot and the buttons, preventing any type of tampering, and because it is clear, remote controls are not affected. The cover must be removed to insert or eject tapes, but the velcro tabs keep it firmly in place otherwise. This type of protective cover is also suitable for DVD players.

No matter which type of protective device parents choose, it should be installed when the kids are not around to witness how it operates. Curiosity leads to experimentation, and an eager child can easily learn how to operate most types of VCR guards. Ideally, the guards should be in place before the child discovers the perfect fit that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is for a tape slot. If the child has never played with the slot or buttons, they will be unaware that they could even try.

Childproofing techniques can be as simple as locking electronics away from a child's reach, or as complex as investing in specialized protective equipment to deflect curious hands. While no method is an adequate substitute for adult supervision, proper childproofing is the first step toward teaching children to respect expensive equipment and use it properly. By teaching those lessons early, parents are spared costly repairs and the entire family will be able to enjoy the benefits of VCRs and DVD players for many years.

© High Speed Ventures 2011