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Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Sadly, I think toddlers would be wise to this trivial deceit in nanoseconds flat. Not for nothing has it been observed that the only way to make a conscious two-year-old stop squirming is to place the child precisely equidistant between a vat of toxic chemicals and a revved-up chainsaw. Positioned correctly, the toddler will freeze on the spot, unable to decide which lethal danger to rush toward. Of course, the amount of energy bottled up by this procedure is prodigious, and the nation that first manages to harness it will rule the planet and go to the stars.



'why buy toys when we have perfectly good pots and pans in the cupboard????'
my oldest(now almost 16) hide the tv remote control in his walkie firetruck when he was about 10 months old. I found it about 2 months later... in the firetruck... outside. roflmao.. His dad was NOT amused, however.. he actually had to get up off the couch to change channels. hahaha!

Steven... you need more sleep! You had best try to stock up on the zzzzzz's for when those 2 are teenagers..... you are going to need it! Don't call me then!

Andy Baio

He'd lose interest because the mock electronics aren't forbidden fruit. If you want the same effect, just pretend to freak out and move him away from his own toys. They'll become the most precious things to him in the universe!

Seth Gordon

We have the handset of a non-functional cordless phone in our toddler's pile o' toys. He doesn't pay any attention to it. He still goes for the phones that the grown-ups actually talk on.

(And then when we hand him the phone, and there's a real live person on the other end talking to him, he freezes. Kid, let me 'splain something: Grandma isn't going to be on this mortal plane forever, and the more you do to charm her now, the more you're likely to get from her estate....)

Bill Seitz

Counter-proposal: wouldn't it be fun if grown-ups had brightly-colored stuff to use?

And wouldn't it be cool to force your boss to use a bright-red cell-phone with a yellow headset (Hello Kitty decals optional), so maybe he wouldn't take himself so seriously? :)

David Weisman

Give it up - just admit they're smarter than you. Consider them samples of emerging intelligence.

Rory Parle

Wouldn't fake sockets suction-cupped to the wall teach the child that it's okay to stick fingers and sundry other things into sockets? And if you plan to prevent the child from interfering with the fake socket for that reason then are you achieving anything at all? I suppose that you get the extra comfort that if you don't manage to prevent the child from playing with the fake socket there's only damage done to the child's learning rather than anything more... vital.


My daughter's preschool had several old telephones that the kids LOVED playing with. They brought back nostalgia for us adults - remember DIALING a number? - and the kids loved them.

Of course they'd never actually seen telephones like that in general use. So I don't know whether it'd help your problem.

Many a babe has sucked the remote control to death...


Actually, the idea is good, but the toys have to be indistinguishable - so even daddy and mommy run towards them every time baby picks them up.
That way the toys retain the shock value, the Forbidden enigma, while at the same time providing hours of fun for when you tell the story to their first dates, many years later.
One thing, though: copyright. I can see Nokia pursuing me like a disney lawyer.

James McCarthy

I have a 14 month old daughter with a tendancy to play with the forbidden fruit. We have cured the problem inexpensively by simply giving her a remote of her own (batteries removed) and old mobile telephone(since these are an abundant feature in most homes)and by placing the fan (which in our house is a 18" unit) above the fridge, out of harms way, the cables are a difficult one, we have bulk bought power breakers for cables which are inavoidably exposed, therefore reducing the risk of any serious injury, even if she does manage to chew her way through a mains cable (and my daughter has 14 little nashers and she still hasn't succeeded). However, above all else, reverse pyschology is the rule: simply don't scream, run hysteriacally at the device when they approach it, just let them have a look and they will, just like the plastically toys purchased for them grow tired of them much sooner(although i fear you may be too late to do this now as kids unfortunately remember everything). Andy Baio comments are another good alternative. These methods have so far worked for me, but from what I understand the rules change when they reach 2 years, then all you need is the adoption clinic number!


You know, we used to have a bunch of different old remote controls form stereos/TVs that had gone to the great trash heap in the sky. We'd give those to the kids to play with, but very quickly they'd learn that these *didn't actually work* and they then refused to play with them.

kevin jones

This reminds of the playing cards that came out for kids that had things like insurance man, able to file a claim in five seconds, or warehouse manager; able to track a package in the deepest darkest corners of the building with a single rfid chip... oh.. wait... nobody made those playing cards.... the fantasy wasn't to be like dad, or mom, just to use their stuff and create a whole new, different kind of life........ yeah, the kids wanted the real tools, but not their parents' lives...i think that was it... i dunno im a little rusty in my childhood fantasy production....


LMAO!! Quite the commentary. I have a 21 month old with the same CORD obsession. Fortunately, the Playskool Vacuum cleaner we purchased is a satisfactory replacement for the Eureka upright he's been entangling himself with and dragging around the house. Good Luck!

alan taylor

With my boy (15 months old) we just tried giving him an unused PC keyboard, since he's so fascinated with mine, and manages to hit magic key combinations that kill my machine regularly. After the first 2 minutes of play on the first day, he's lost total interest in his keyboard. It's only interesting to him because I'm interested in it and it's off-limits. As soon as it's easily accessible, he doesn't even see it anymore. Maybe I should spend some time pretending his stuffed tiger is really dangerous and fun to play with. Nah, he'd probably see right through that.

S. Hughes

Beyond Northern Iqaq page. Welcome.


Why not to allow him to play with what he wants to? Just make sure it's not dangerous. I liked to play with nails and a hummer when I was 4...

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I'm a father of three boys, husband of one wife, and author of nine books, host of one television series, and co-founder of three web sites. We split our time between Brooklyn, NY and Marin County, CA. Personal correspondence should go to sbeej68 at gmail dot com. If you're interested in having me speak at an event, drop a line to Wesley Neff at the Leigh Bureau (WesN at Leighbureau dot com.)

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  • Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

    Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
    A history of innovation accompanied by a 6-part TV series on PBS and the BBC, this was the first of my books to crack the top 5 on the NY Times bestseller list. Appropriately for a book that celebrates diverse networks, this was the most collaborative of any of my books. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age

    Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age
    My first book-length attempt to organize my writings about emergence and networks into something resembling a political philosophy, which I called Peer Progressivism. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

    Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
    An exploration of environments that lead to breakthrough innovation, in science, technology, business, and the arts. I conceived it as the closing book in a trilogy on innovative thinking, after Ghost Map and Invention. But in a way, it completes an investigation that runs through all the books, and laid the groundwork for How We Got To Now. (Available from IndieBound here.)

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    The Invention of Air
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  • : The Ghost Map

    The Ghost Map
    The story of a terrifying outbreak of cholera in 1854 London 1854 that ended up changing the world. An idea book wrapped around a page-turner. I like to think of it as a sequel to Emergence if Emergence had been a disease thriller. You can see a trailer for the book here. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

    Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter
    The title says it all. This one sparked a slightly insane international conversation about the state of pop culture -- and particularly games. There were more than a few dissenters, but the response was more positive than I had expected. And it got me on The Daily Show, which made it all worthwhile. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

    Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
    My first best-seller, and the only book I've written in which I appear as a recurring character, subjecting myself to a battery of humiliating brain scans. The last chapter on Freud and the neuroscientific model of the mind is one of my personal favorites. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

    Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
    The story of bottom-up intelligence, from slime mold to Slashdot. Most of my books sold more copies than this one, but Emergence has influenced the most eclectic mix of fields: political campaigns, web business models, urban planning, the war on terror. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate

    Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
    My first. The book I wrote instead of finishing my dissertation, predicting the growing cultural significance of interface and information design. Still relevant, I think. But I haven't read it in a while, so who knows what's in there! (Available from IndieBound here.)

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