Childproofing your computer

These instructions are for desktop or tower computers.

Making your power/reset switches inaccessible to children

After disabling power & reset buttons as described below, we eventually settled on a better solution: an external power+reset button with extension cable! The power+reset buttons on our computer are now out of reach for children under the age of five. If you still want to disable your power & reset buttons, follow the instructions below.

Disabling the power button and reset switch

Change your BIOS power management settings so that your computer will always switch itself on when mains power is restored (you can access BIOS settings on most motherboards by switching on your computer and immediately holding down the DELETE, F2 or F12 key for several seconds.)  If your mains electrical power is supplied via a UPS, you may need to switch that off and also switch off power at the mains socket, in order to ensure that your computer remains switched off until you require it to boot up, and to ensure that your computer will respond by booting up when you switch the mains electrical power back on again.  To switch your computer ON, simply restore mains electrical power (switch on mains power and UPS if present.)  To switch your computer OFF, shut down your computer via your operating system, switch off your UPS if present, and then switch off mains power.  You now have no need for your power button.

You will need to open the case of your computer in order to physically disable the POWER button (alternative methods such as changing Windows power settings did not work for us).  Take precautions to minimise static electricity and electrical shock hazards before doing so.  Most ATX cases have separate cables for each of the front panel lights and switches.  Locate the ATX front panel riser, which typically has a block of electrical pins.  (Your motherboard manual will help you locate the front panel riser pins, and you can obtain most motherboard manuals on the internet in PDF format from the motherboard manufacturer’s website.  The motherboard product code is usually printed on the circuit board and this can help to locate the manual corresponding to your computer.  Front panel risers usually have annotations denoting the functions of specific pins – such as “PWR SW”, “PWR LED” etc.)  Locate the small two-pin cable and plug for the power ON/OFF switch (e.g. “PWR SW”), and remove (unplug) it from the front panel riser pins on the motherboard.  If you have a power light cable (e.g. “PWR LED”), leave that attached if possible.  Your computer will no longer respond when someone presses or even holds your power button.

The RESET button can sometimes be helpful if your computer has stopped responding to the mouse and keyboard.  Sticky cellulose tape can be helpful for securing hatches and buttons from toddlers (we also used sticky velcro strips).  If this does not work for you, you might need to disable the RESET button.  To disable this button, remove the small RESET SWITCH plug from the block of ATX front panel riser pins.

An alternative idea for protecting your POWER and RESET buttons is explained here.

Protecting your files and open documents

To prevent your children from messing up your work, consider:

  • Giving them their own username.  “Windows/ Control Panel/ User Accounts” will enable you to create a restricted user account that can be deleted if your child messes up any of its settings.  Ensure that you keep important files in your personal, private “Documents” folder so that your child cannot access or modify them.
  • Select a Screensaver, and change the Screensaver settings so that it will be activated after a short period of keyboard/mouse inactivity.  Ensure that each important account is password protected and that you require users to log in again after the screensaver is deactivated.

Disabling the CD tray EJECT button

We tested “Toddler Keys” and found this does a fine job (most of the time) of disabling the “EJECT” buttons on CD trays.  On Windows 7 64-bit, it sometimes failed to settle into the correct configuration after Windows was booted up, but on the occasions when it failed to load correctly, manually switching off the option “Lock Drive Doors” and switching it on again ensured that protection was active.  This program works well enough for us since we rarely reboot our computers.