There was a time when home automation was considered a “grown-up toy.” But now more and more home owners are adding automated systems. Even young families with new homes have this technology and people are now asking what this means for their children. Is it safe? Is it too complicated for them to understand? Is it giving them access to information or appliances that they shouldn’t be using?
These are all good questions. So let’s look at home automation as it relates to our kids.
Will they be able to control the system?
The answer is overwhelmingly “yes.” In fact, kids are often more technically comfortable than their parents. This generation has grown up with internet access, banking machines, touch screen computers at school, video games and smart phones. They are eager to use new technology and are not intimidated by it. Because home automation is generally driven by touch screens with large buttons, there is very little danger of activating the wrong item. Because the screens can be customized, even kids too young to read can see a picture of a light bulb and know that it turns the lights on.
Will they use it as a toy?
This is a legitimate concern. A remote control for an automated home theatre system is very durable, but it should not abused. With a replacement cost in the thousands of dollars and a warranty that is voided by misuse, it pays to be careful. When designing the system, the age of the children in the house should definitely be taken into account. You may want to keep the hand-held remotes away from very small children, and only allow them access to wall mounted touch panels.
Another great feature of home automation is the ability to password-protect the system. There may be some parts of the system you want to allow, like turning TV and video games on and off, while passwording other parts of the system like the furnace controls. This is easily done on any quality system.
What parts of home automation do kids really like?
Start with the lights. Kids love to be able to control the lights in their bedroom without getting out of bed. It might even save a trip to their bedroom in the middle of the night if your child has lighting control at their bedside.
Kids love controlling home entertainment. That’s another place passwording comes into play. You can put a special button on the panel for “kids video” that will make sure they can only access the content that is appropriate to their age. Even very young children will be able to push a button that plays their favourite video or turns on their game console.
An advantage for parents can be the ability to limit the amount of time the kids spend watching television. The parents put in the password, and the timer starts, then shuts off the TV when the chosen time is up. The same technology can be used to make sure the nanny isn’t using too much TV as a babysitter.
Keeping kids safe
While we tend to worry most about our kids when they are away, the truth is that homes are the second most dangerous place our kids can be. Home automation offers a variety of ways to protect our young ones.
Very young children are naturally curious. You may want to consider alarms that go off when someone opens the doors to the cleaning products or the medicine cabinet. We have all heard stories of small children tragically getting tangled in the cables from window blinds. Power shades don’t have ropes or cables, and are safely wired with low voltage power at the top of the window.
Off site monitoring is becoming more and more popular with parents of latch-key kids. Simply install a camera at the front door, and have the kids push a button on the touch pad to call in when they get home. You can see them and talk to them from your smartphone, ipad or computer.
Some parents feel greater security by being able to check in with the nanny a few times a day. A few internet cameras and the right programming, and this can be easily accomplished.
Another great comfort feature for kids is the video door phone. We always tell our children not to open the door to strangers. Now they can see who is outside the door before they open it even a bit. The video door phone can also take pictures or videos of suspicious visitors.
Panic buttons are another option. People think of panic buttons as being for seniors living alone, but for kids that are home alone it’s also something you may want to consider. You can set up a single button on every touch screen that will send an e-mail, call 911 or call a parent – whatever you want.
As you can tell from this brief blog, home automation can do a lot more for your family than turn the lights on and off. Working with a professional designer, you will find many ways you can make your childrens’ lives safer and more fun. The home automation professionals are OneTouch Automation are ready to help. Call us today for a no-obligation consultation on all your Smarthouse needs.