Long car rides, rainy days at home, after your fifth performance of “Let It Go”—all times when you’ll be tempted to pull out your phone to entertain baby. And that’s totally okay; you can’t be a Pinterest-project parent all the time. But you don’t always have to resort to YouTube or cartoons either. From quick boredom fixes to more involved projects, these fun tricks will spark baby’s imagination and make you feel less guilty about screen time.
Before you whip out the phone, keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against screen time for babies under 18 months. Around this age, the AAP recommends occasional high-quality programming like PBS or Sesame Street. For children between the ages of 2 and 5, one hour (max) of high-quality programming is the okay. Make the most of that one hour with these five mind-blowing DIY tricks that’ll even impress you.
Make Siri a storyteller
You’re in the car with and baby and he or she expects non-stop entertainment from you. That’s where Siri comes in. To use Siri dictation:
- Go to Settings>General.
- Scroll to Accessibility.
- Hit Speak Selection and slow down the speaking rate (this will make Siri’s voice sound more human).
- Go to your iBooks app, click the a button on the right hand side
- Hit Themes>Scroll.
- Click on a word in the book to select, and drag down as far as you want Siri to read.
- Hit "Speak," and Siri will read your book aloud. You just hacked your own audio book.
Screen films in a shoebox
Did someone say movie night? You’ll need a shoebox, paper clips, a magnifying glass and knife for this trick that turns your iPhone into a DIY film projector. If the insides of the shoebox are a light color, consider spray painting them black for best results. Using the magnifying glass, trace around the edges onto the top of the shoebox. Cut out what you traced and tape the magnifying glass onto the cutout. Make an iPhone stand with paper clips using this hack. Next, you’ll want to flip your screen to make sure the image doesn’t project upside down, which you can do by going to Settings>General>Accessibility, and turning on AssistiveTouch. You can use any white surface for the screen—think a white sheet or even a wall. Just pop some popcorn and you've got your own mini home theater.
Make it glow in the dark
We’re not telling you to raise a raver. But by turning your phone into blacklight, you can throw a glow-in-the-dark party. Place a small piece of plastic tape on your LED light (located next to the camera lens), and color the outline of the circle with a blue Sharpie. Repeat with another piece of tape, and color the outline with a purple Sharpie. Turn on the flash, and you have a homemade blacklight. To turn it into a fun project with baby, try doodling on plain white paper with a highlighter. Turn off the lights, and your artwork will glow!
Change your voice without a balloon
We know you’ve already adorned baby in Snapchat’s glasses and dog ears. You’ve probably introduced the voice changing filter too. Luckily, you can get the same effect without draining all your data using voice changing apps on the market. With Voice Changer Plus (free), you can distort your voice to sound like a mosquito or a robot, and even play your voice backwards. If baby is using the app solo, consider turning on Guided Use, an iOS feature that basically puts your phone in lockdown while baby browses.
Turn your phone into a hologram projector
The future is now—seriously. With this trick, you can actually turn your phone into a hologram projector. While it seems complicated, we promise it’s doable, and you likely have most of the supplies at home. Using an X-Acto knife or glass cutter, carve out four small trapezoids 1 x 3.5 x 6 cm in length from an old CD or DVD jewel case, then paste them together with clear tape. YouTube a hologram video on your phone, and the search will return cool moving images that can be projected into the screen. Place the jewel case on the screen and press play to watch the images come to life. Mind. Blown.
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Published June 2017