I do my best to be an active parent and not let the television babysit for me, but there are times when it is nice to turn on the Backyardigans (or more likely Thomas & Friends) and let my son be entertained.

As Nick gets older, he is more and more aware of the technology around him, especially as he sees Mom and Dad engaging in it. He’s been viewing videos on YouTube since he was six months old (In fact, for a time viewing The Wiggles was one of the best ways to get him to calm down when he was upset). He talks to Grandma and Grandpa on the telephone, and he sees me checking e-mail on my Blackberry.

With his growing addiction to Thomas & Friends, it was only natural that trains would extend into his YouTube viewing. In many ways this is great, because there is a plethora of Thomas & Friends videos and fan recreations on YouTube, many of them very well done and with millions of views.

I began wondering if I could capture some of these videos and transfer them to my telephone for use in outside situations. There are lots of places where kids are forced to wait such as doctor’s offices, restaurants, the mall, in the car, etc where a 5 minute video could prevent a crying fit or prevent him from running around bothering others.

What I found was a handy website called KeepVid (http://www.keepvid.com). This site allows you to download and save any video from YouTube (or other streaming video sites). It even gives you a few options for how you would like the video to be saved. Be aware that there may be copyright issues with downloading some videos.

This was great, and I could now watch the videos on my laptop without an internet connection. However, it didn’t really solve the problem of getting the videos onto my phone; none of the download options were compatible with my Blackberry. For that problem I turned to AVS Video Converter (http://www.avs4you.com). This software allowed me to convert the video into the correct format. Because I use the free version, there is a watermark at the beginning and end of the videos. Those of you using different devices may be able to download videos directly to your device without any conversion.

The end result is a 5 minute babysitter that grasps Nick’s attention when I really need it.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs