Smart Tech in a Home with Kids
Smart technology is becoming the norm rather than the exception, with more and more gadgets helping make our homes more efficient. This technology can help make our lives more convenient, and our kids’ educational experience more enriched.
Smart tech can add an extra measure of safety in our homes, but parents also need to be aware of potential security risks. Here’s an overview of things to consider when adopting smart tech into your home.
1. Teaching smart online behavior is key.
As smart devices are becoming more integrating into your child’s life for entertainment, education and daily living, it’s important to teach them about safe online behavior. Older kids who are on social media should know why privacy settings are important. They should be selective about accepting friend requests and ensure location services are disabled. They also should understand the perennial nature of posting, and how nothing on social media is ever really gone.
Ensure your pre-teens and teens understand the nature of cyberbullying. This includes understanding that photos and situations that are funny to them now, might lose their humor down the line because they can hurt people’s feelings. These posts might come back to haunt them later when they want to join a club, get an after-school job or apply to college.
They also should understand that posting about an event or activity on social media can cause resentment by those who have been deliberately left out, helping them to think critically about what they wish to share publicly.
2. Smart sensors in the home make sense.
A smart home can incorporate many different types of smart sensors. Some are particularly useful for keeping kids safe, especially for curious toddlers who haven’t yet learned about boundaries. Sensors installed in doorways can create greater peace of mind for parents of small explorers. For example, they can send a signal to your phone when a child exits a threshold, or if an intruder enters one.
Sensors can connect to a video camera so you can check your phone to see what’s happening. Doorbell cameras are particularly useful for when your kids get older and start inviting the neighborhood over when you’re not home.
Among the various types of sensors a home may have, motion sensors can be set up around danger areas, such as swimming pools or driveways, to provide a notification to you when a child has entered the area unsupervised. Window sensors can not only help save energy but can create an extra measure of safety by notifying you when one is left open or opens unexpectedly, ensuring there are no unexpected escapes or entries.
While every home should be equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, smart versions of these devices can also monitor your home’s air quality, checking for pollen and other particles that can be troublesome for young lungs.
3. Smart light bulbs can improve school performance.
Smart tech in your home can include smart light bulbs, which can help your kids get better grades in school. How? For one, some smart bulbs can adjust their blue light emissions from day to evening, helping your kids be more energized in the mornings and move more easily toward sleep at night.
Blue light, which comes to us naturally through sunlight, can interfere with the sleep hormone melatonin when we get too much blue light artificially. Better sleep equals better performance at school and on tests.
4. Smart devices can protect infant safety.
Parents of newborns already know the important benefit of baby monitors in keeping an ear on activity in the other room. The frightening worry posed by SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, has led developers of baby monitors to evolve the product. Some connect to your smartphone or can be sent to a mobile speaker.
Other smart items like onesies, mattresses or socks can measure and monitor your baby’s vital information like heart rate, breathing, movement, pulse oximetry and body position. You will be able to hear sounding alarms or receive notifications to your phone when there’s a problem.
5. Internet-connected smart toys need vetting.
Smart toys with an Internet connection—which can include robot dogs, dinosaurs, cars and other items—should be carefully vetted before purchase or forgone altogether. Many of these toys have cameras and microphones and can gather data during play as well as share your child’s location.
While these toys can provide educational opportunities, the Federal Trade Commission urges parents to carefully collect information on the toy before purchasing. That includes researching what kind of information the toy will collect about your child, learning of there are security issues or safety recalls, and knowing whether there have been security complaints.
Know the features of the toy and when it will be listening in, and whether you have the option to control the information. Smart toys, just like any other smart item in your home, pose a risk of being hacked or their data used in ways you didn’t expect.
Bottom line: Smart technology has great potential to improve safety and enhance kids’ lives when approached carefully and sensibly. Talking with your children and teaching them about the proper use of smart technology will help ensure the best experience for everyone.
By Hilary Thompson