Auto News, Behind the Wheel

How do you keep your kids happy on long car rides?

May 4, 2010
Pop in a movie! And keep em happy!

Pop in a movie! And keep em happy!

From soggy, old french fries to “tag-you’re it” games, how do parents keep their sanity during the long car rides? DVD players are a great addition to any family. Whether you pop in a movie or an interactive DVD, the kids should be entertained for hours. But, what happens if that’s not enough? Well, there’s the traditional Sing-along tapes or CDs … but we all know that may get loud. Perhaps third row seating is the answer for the bigger families. Stick one kid here and one kid there and they should be okay … well, I said “should!” I’ve seen many parents store toys and goodies to keep the children entertained and happy while driving. So, my recommendation: A wicker basket full of little goodies and perhaps ear plugs for the parents! Check out this awesome site with examples of games for all ages. Parents, what do you do to keep your kids happy on long car rides?

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  • mnaines May 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    What I would like to see in large vehicles is DVD monitors in the back of each head rest instead of on the ceiling, with the DVD player slaved to the car’s stereo so that you get more of a theater experience, with the capability of expanding each monitor with a video game system so that each of the kids can play video games with or against the other in the car. This idea would also work for small families who don’t buy SUVs or minivans because the DVD monitors can be installed in the headrests in those cars, too, with the same expansion capabilities. That’s what I’d want in a family sedan is a DVD monitor in the back of each head rest so both kids can watch movies and so I would not have to buy a minivan just to seat myself, my girlfriend, and only two kids.

    Secondly, I think dealerships need to find some way to eliminate the “soccer mom/dad” label that minivans put on families.

  • mnaines May 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Edit: Basically, my point is, instead of running ads for minivans showing the vans full of kids and sports equipment, show the minivans in more versatile and more subtle roles, like a minivan loaded with camping or hiking gear, a minivan loaded with fishing gear towing a boat, a minivan loaded with gear for whitewater rafting, minivans loaded up for a beach party, or even showing a minivan being used as a mobile medical station for marathons and whatnot.

  • Lauren McCarthy May 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I like your suggestions! Especially, ‘the kids can play video games with or against the other’! That’s good!
    I know that you are able to get DVD players installed into the back of the headrests. So, that is definitely an option!

    In regards to the “minivan” stigma … I think it is very important to show its versatility. Minivans are just as capable to lug around camping & fishing gear, as they are a bunch of kids! So, good call!

  • mnaines May 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    The DVDs in the back of the headrest idea works with all types of cars, not just SUVs and minivans, so don’t limit that option to those vehicles. Also, if you’re going to do that as an option, upgrade from 6 inch or 8 inch subwoofers to 10 inch subwoofers. You’ll have to look really hard to find them, but there are 10″ subwoofers that actually are very mellow in that you hear the bass, not feel it. Sound dampeners help quite a bit with that, too, but the sound dampeners add a LOT of weight to the vehicle. Also, just a word of caution: Amplified car entertainment systems use a LOT of power. The best way to calculate power requirements for an amplifier is to take the RMS power rating of the amplifier and multiply it by the number of channels, then double the result to make up for the amplifier’s inefficiencies. The final number is then divided by 13.8, which is the average output of an alternator. That will give you the ampere load that the amplifier will put on the system, and tell you how large an alternator the vehicle will need.

    A suggestion for such a setup in cars is this: Use 6.5″ two-way speakers up front to get the mid-range and high-end tones, use 6×9 inch three-way speakers in back to get the bass and lower-mid-range, then use a single 10 inch subwoofer to get the bass without sacrificing sound quality. Get the right speakers and subwoofer, and you can create a theater-like experience without the thunder that subwoofers are known for. Go as a spectator to autosound competitions and check out the sound quality competition cars and see how they’re set up. That will give you an idea of how to set up the DVD systems in the cars for a theater-like experience.

  • ScottM September 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Curious… whatever happened to the good old activity of “engaging” our kids in stimulating exercises of their surroundings? ID’ing cars from different states, counting cars from a same manufacturer, spelling words w/the letters on a license plate, etc?

    Just like the comments about too many safety devices on cars can make a driver lull into a false sense of security… same can be said about having the DVD players and game consoles in the cars.

    • Lauren McCarthy September 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      I agree with you … my favorite road-trip games involve license plates and giant billboards! I’m old-school!