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Harnessing the internet to keep your family and home safe

Ari Howard

Jul 24, 2021 — 6 min read

The internet has become an essential tool for protection and security. Here's what you need to know about using the internet for safety.

Outdoor security cameras

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Using smart home devices like a Ring Video Doorbell to see who is at your house when you aren’t or tracking your children’s whereabouts have nearly become necessities. However, if you don’t have access to an internet connection, these devices don’t help you. 

According to a Pew Research study released in April 2021, 93% of adults consistently use the internet and 77% of adults have a broadband connection in their home. Those who do not have consistent access to the internet are often left out of society in major ways, including accessing information, securing their homes, telehealth, social gatherings and more. 

With the rise of smart home devices, tracking devices and general online communication, the need to have 24/7 access to high-speed internet is more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know about using the internet to protect your home, yourself and your loved ones. 

Using the internet to stay safe 

The internet can help families and loved ones stay physically safe both in the home and outside of it. For instance, when children begin leaving the house independently, it’s not uncommon for parents to buy their children smartphones in order to track their children’s location or remain in contact with them when they are apart. 

As of 2017, 56% of parents reported they bought their child a smartphone for safety reasons.

Although there can be a stigma about parents tracking their children’s location, in reality, many kids and teens actively want their parents to have their location.

For instance, 87% of teens reported feeling safer knowing that their family is aware of their location through an app. Even 73% of grown adults choose to show their location with family members for safety purposes. 

When inside the home, many households are investing in smart security systems for protection. For instance, 63% of smart home users said in 2021 they wanted their smart home systems to include smart security features. 

Additionally, in 2017, 75% of consumers reported they are willing to pay more for enhanced security, such as being able to remotely control and monitor who enters their home. 

Having a good internet connection

With any smart home security system or online tracking app, having access to high-speed internet is essential. With most internet plans, there are only a set amount of devices that can connect to the internet at a time before the internet connection begins to slow down. 

This is because of bandwidth limitations. Each device sucks up a certain amount of bandwidth and if that bandwidth is spread too thin, no devices will function as needed. Therefore, the more devices you want to have connected in your home at a time, the faster internet plan you will want to choose. 

Security cameras, for instance, require approximately 2 Mbps upload speeds per camera. If you have four security cameras, then you need an internet connection that can handle 8 Mbps upload speeds. 

When choosing an internet plan, you will need to know what both your download and upload speeds are because unless you have fiber optic technology, your upload speeds will be considerably slower than your download speeds. 

In fact, the FCC currently classifies any speeds above 25/3 Mbps (download/upload) as high-speed internet. This means many people with high-speed internet still don’t have the speeds needed for a smart home system. Make sure, therefore, you know what your internet plan can handle before you invest in smart home devices. 

Ways to protect your home 

There are a wide range of ways to protect your home. Some ways require purchasing products, but others just have to do with communicating with your children and other loved ones. Protecting your home doesn’t mean living in fear, but rather setting yourself up for success in the future. 

Surveillance

Investing in a home security system is certainly one of the most effective ways to protect your home. Studies have revealed that home security systems deter approximately 60% of burglars. There are a wide range of security devices available. Some of the most popular surveillance devices include:

  • Smart security cameras: Monitor your home in real-time via an app 
  • Smart locks: Grant and deny access into your home
  • Smart doorbells: Monitor who is at your door and communicate with them
  • Smart lighting: Have your lights automatically turn on when it detects motion
  • Smart motion detectors: Receive alerts when motion is detected 
  • Smart window breaking sensors: Receive alerts if you someone breaks through your windows

Securing your internet connection 

Another aspect of staying safe is online safety. There are a few ways you can secure your Wi-Fi network, including:

  • Change your network name: Routers come with a default name and can be a signal to hackers you haven’t secured your network yet 
  • Use strong passwords: Don’t include any personal information in your passwords and make it around 16 characters 
  • Purchase a Virtual Private Network (VPN): Allows you to create a private network across a public one for added security  

Knowing your neighbors 

Although there is a lot of modern technology to help secure your homes and devices, don’t rule out more “old-fashioned” practices like communicating to your neighbors when you might not be home for a while. Whether you have been living in an area for a while or just moving in, it can be beneficial to cultivate a relationship with your neighbors to help have an extra eye on your home. And you can do the same for them. 

Getting to know your neighbors can have benefits beyond home security. You may even forge long lasting friendships where you are able to help each other out in even more significant ways, such as house sitting for one another. 

Communicating with loved-ones 

If you have young children in your home, you may want to consider communicating with them about how to keep themselves safe in various environments. For instance, if your children are on different schedules from your own and are routinely in the home by themselves, it’s important that they know how your security system works and how to monitor it themselves. 

You may also want to give the elderly people in your life a lesson on smart security systems so they can protect themselves and their homes as well. 

If your children are most often alone outside of the home, it may be helpful to have a conversation with them about what it means to be aware of their surroundings. This might mean not using headphones when walking alone in the evening or keeping an eye out to make sure no one is watching or following them. 

You can also talk about the importance of checking in with you or another guardian about where they are and how long it will take them to get home. This way you know if you should be getting worried if you don’t hear from them after a certain amount of time. 

Resources

Although the internet can be an excellent tool to protect you and your loved-ones, it is anything but fool proof. Understanding you can’t ever fully rely on the internet can help you prepare and maintain safety. 

Alternative internet sources 

One of the most important circumstances to prepare for is if you experience outages or weather conditions that influence your internet connection. If this occurs, make sure you know how to access hotspots and determine which neighbors you can reach out to for assistance. 

You might also want to consider purchasing a generator so that if your power goes out, you have a back-up to access power. If a generator isn’t a realistic option for you, however, you can also purchase a fake security system, such as faux security cameras, to help deter intruders even when you don’t have power. 

Lastly, if you find yourself constantly struggling with your internet connection, it may be time to upgrade plans or switch your internet provider. Before you do this, however, make sure your connection issues don’t just have to do with your equipment. Sometimes the simple fix is the better fix. 

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Illustration of a father and daughter in a living room. The father is sitting in an armchair and reading a newspaper, and the daughter is playing with a toy on the floor.
Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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