My Kid Messed Up the Computer… Again!

I KNOW this has happened to you, because it happens to me ALL the time.  Your child has been playing on the computer, you take a look at the screen when they are finished, and you say to yourself… “what the heck did he do???”  It recently happend on our Dell Inspiron 23, that is a touch screen all in one computer.  Somehow Michael had zoomed the screen wayyyyyyy in so that the icons were so big I couldn’t get around to close the magnifier.  Kids have a crazy way of hitting just the right buttons in order to mess things up.  Save yourself some headache and check out my easy tips for making it all better…

Common things kids do:

Close Magnifier – If your kids are anything like my kids, they’ve zoomed in or out of the screen way to far.  To close the magnifier just hold down the windows key on your keyboard and press the “minus” button a few times.  That should the computer to regular size.

Fix Sticky Keys – This one gets turned on quite easily, but it’s the same method to turn it on and off.  Just press the shift button 5 times.  Leave the kid with the computer long enough and they may just turn it back off themselves.  🙂

Fix Filter Keys – Again, another easy one to get turned on when kids rest their hand on the keyboard.  Same method for turning it on as turning it off… hold the shift key on the right side of the keyboard down for 8 seconds.

Fix Toggle Keys – Same as before, but this one is triggered with holding down the num lock key down for 5 seconds.

Fix TaskBar – The taskbar is the bar usually located along the bottom of the screen that shows which programs are open.  Kids like to take the taskbar and move it all over the screen.  Basically you can have the taskbar on any 4 walls of your screen.  This fix is easy, in that you just click and hold the taskbar where there are no programs or any items and then drag your mouse to the bottom of the screen.  A good way to avoid this from happening is to right click the taskbar in a blank space and select “Lock the Taskbar” so that it has a checkmark next to it.  That will prevent little ones from moving things off of/on to/around on the taskbar.

Fix upsidedown screen – This one has actually happened to me as well.  Looking at the computer and everything is upsidedown!  Best way to fix this is to actually turn the monitor the direction it is (so if everything is sideways turn it on it’s side, etc).  Then it will be easier to move the mouse.  Right click anywhere on the desktop and go to “graphics options” and then “rotation”.  Rotate the screen the amount of degrees it will take to get it back to the correct location.

What else have your kids done to your computers?  I’d love to hear!  Comment on this post or on the link to the post on Facebook!  Also check out the new link I posted in my downloads section to one of my favorite internet browsers for kids.  It’s called KidRocket, and development has stopped on it.  Which is a shame, because it’s great.  It only has set links to kid friendly websites, and has some great parental controls for keeping not just your child safe from the internet, but your computer safe from your child!  Download it, and check it out!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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  • Wouldn’t it be easier if you just create a new user account for your kids and then do a quick “Windows + L” shortcut to switch the user when you are away? 😀

    This way, whatever your kids do, you don’t need to be stressed because they have their own workspace to mess up 🙂

  • That is true, and actually my kids do have their own account. Doesn’t help much when you try to go back to their account and they can’t play anymore though. 😉 (also doesn’t help when they tilt the screen sideways.

      • Definitely true Michael, thank you! Typically I don’t use the main computer in the kitchen much anyway, as it’s more for my husband and the kids. My laptop is where I do most of my work.

  • I’m sorry but I have a much better idea on how to prevent a child from messing up your computer. If it is an important business tool you rely on for your daily business, simply deny access, get him or her a much simpler computer for them to use, and if they mess *that* up, they get nothing. Am I being a little mean? well maybe, but kids should be on a basic honor system, be respectful with mom’s & dad’s things or loose privileges. Also lock your machine up with a password in case they get access anyway…

    • Bruce, I gotta say, I completely disagree. I DO agree with you on the fact that once kids learn how to use things properly they are allowed more access. Explain to an 18 month old that they can’t play games on the computer anymore because they accidentally hit the shift button a few too many times. It’s just not realistic.

      The issues I posted aren’t a child being malicious with the computer, or not knowing how to work it properly. They are trying to figure things out on it, and I encourage that! If you lock the computer away and never let them play on it until they are able, they are not going to learn HOW to be able. Haven’t you ever taken something apart just to see how it works? Sure you may break it in the process, but at least you are learning.

      Again, I am mostly talking about a family computer that children have access to. I don’t let my 2 year old use my business laptop.

      • Ahhh ok I very much misunderstood, sorry Sarah, my face is Livid Lobster red now. I didn’t understand in your original text this was a family machine. Yes, then your kids *must* walk before they surf,
        (it is still called surfing yes?) I was also thinking of a friend who’s daughter completely messed up a computer I gave her for X-Mass with music, videos and viruses. It took me 3 days to but it back to right, echhhhh!!!. And you’re so right, saying no is like saying “I hate you” these days, well always I think, not just *these* days, I remember this when I was a kid back in the late 1800s. As a 3 year old, I could never understand why my father wouldn’t let me juggle knives. Well sorry again, no hard drive feelings I hope 😉 TTYS “B”

        • LOL, not hard drive feelings at all. 🙂 I love being able to discuss these topics! But yes, I wasn’t referring to viruses and what not, just the crazy things that small kids can do with a keyboard and mouse. 🙂

          And don’t get me wrong… I’m all for saying no when it’s necessary. I have NO problems telling my children they can’t do something. It’s just in THIS case, I don’t think locking it away will help them learn at all. 🙂

  • Yes your right, they must learn. Computers are not a luxury or just for games anymore. In the 60s-70s when I grew up *no one* even dreamed we’d all have even one computer in our homes, but today, learning computing is as nessaceary as learning to write, (I certainly hope that will live a long life), I can almost see it “but mommy, I can type in the computer, why do I have to use that stupid pen”? I heard that in some schools, teaching cursive writing is being abolished !!!??? Anyway, getting dinner on, TTYL Sarah 😉 “B”

  • Hi, I don’t think any of you get the point here. The reason I’m here is because this has happened to me. Sure the changing user and stuff is a great idea and kids should learn them before they use them and what not, but if any of you actually have little one’s then you would know that when you use your laptop and just set it down for a brief moment, that’s when this stuff happens. I can promise you I’m not gonna remember to keep switching my computer (to my daughters account that shouldn’t exist anyway as she’s so young which is again why I’m here) every time I get up to get a drink. That’s what this is basically here for, I mean let’s face it, a kid shouldn’t be able to use a computer until a kid knows how to use a computer, so in the mean time, infants and toddlers are just gonna smash away at the keys. It happens so fast when you just look away, this will help many people for a long time

    • If you can, try to right click on the desktop and then look for your graphics properties. Likely there is an option to “rotate”

  • I was having trouble with my cursor working….and hit a bunch of keys (not smart I know)…including but not limited to the fn+other keys and the alt key+other keys…maybe even the Window key. i’m guessing somehow I disable the s v an d keys. They don’t work now. Im using the on-screen keyboard and it works fine. Any ideas how to get these keys back?

  • Well my daughter just a few moments ago put her hand on the keyboard and pressed a few buttons. Now my screen is offset and google is no help everything says to adjust the monitor settings/resolution but thats just not the problem she hit some shortcut. Interestingly as well if I do change the H sync it moves the screen “under” the black bar on the right of the screen.

  • my granddaughter was slapping at my keyboard and now when i type certain letters like d,m or r it minimizes the screen and/or goes to a run box. help!! I can’t search for anything

  • Hi my granddaughter has done something to my laptop the screen is black and white and the icons are big I’ve tried right click and properties but can’t change anything. Any help would be great