LifeShield released the results of a consumer survey highlighting how parents use their home security systems to monitor their children’s safety and decision making while occasionally catching them in random acts of kindness. The survey also examined parents’ attitudes towards their children’s privacy, and when they found it most crucial and appropriate to use their home security systems’ video monitoring capabilities to check-in on their children.
The primary job of a home security system is to protect against the big four threats to life and property – fire, burglary, carbon dioxide (CO) and flooding. Nearly one in 10 surveyed parents reported that their home security system has alerted them to break-in attempts/burglaries, fire and CO2 leaks when their children were either home alone or when kids were headed home to an empty house.
Parental Monitoring over the Children
Beyond the common threats, one in every three parents surveyed reported they have utilized their home security systems to monitor their kids’ activities, while another 44% say they may opt to do so in the future.
Although one in five parents reported that they would not or have not ever considered using their home security systems to monitor their kids, when asked about specific monitoring scenarios they could use their home security system for, parents cited they were likely or very likely to monitor direct threats to their kids:
- Whether they are home alone when strangers are loitering outside the house (76%)
- If they got into the house safely after school, camp, etc. when parents were not at home (74%)
- If their kids locked up the house appropriately when they are home alone, or when they leave the house (74%)
Given a heightened sense of awareness around things in the home that can be problematic for kids, parents were asked if they would ever use their home security system to monitor “sensitive areas” of the home such as the liquor cabinet, family medicine cabinets, gun storage or household petty cash. More than half of the responding parents (52%) said they were likely or highly likely to monitor those sensitive areas, while 22% of parents responded they would “never consider that.” Additionally, 26% of parents surveyed said it was possible they would monitor these areas of their home, depending on the circumstances. In one case, a respondent mentioned that their home security system discovered that the babysitter was helping herself to the liquor cabinet while on the job.
Other key highlights:
The surveyed parents also responded that they were likely or very likely to monitor proactive behaviors and passive threats to their children such as:
- If they opened doors for strangers (68%)
- Which friends they invited over when parents aren’t home (63%)
- If they snuck out of the house (61%)
- If they made it home before curfew (61%)
Interestingly, these activities also ranked high among parents who said that they would possibly use their home security system to monitor their children’s activities “depending on the circumstances.” The most common situation-dependent monitoring activities reported were:
- Following household rules, such as no food in the living room (29%)
- Completion of household chores (29%)
- Doing homework or respecting study time (29%)
- Monitoring sensitive areas such as liquor cabinet, medicine cabinet, gun storage or household petty cash (26%)
- Which friends they invited over when parents aren’t home (25%)
- Made it home before curfew (23%)
The Fine Line Between Respecting Privacy and Safety Monitoring
Parents were also asked what best described their attitude on whether using their home security system to monitor the behavior of their kids was a violation of their children’s privacy. Parents cited the following reasons:
- 38% said it was their responsibility to ensure their children were safe and supervised, and saw their home security system as one way of doing that
- 27% said it depended on the child, their maturity level and the situation at hand
- 15% said that the kids know the system is there and that it may be used for that purpose
- 1% said that it was “never appropriate” to monitor their kids
- 19% said they did not feel any of those descriptions represented their attitudes on the matter
Respondents had a strong orientation to using the system to protect their children from threats when they are home alone. Additionally, responses indicate that parents could further lean on home security systems under special situations or when there was a heightened concern about certain behaviors such as their kids sneaking out at night or into the liquor cabinet.
One respondent who uses their home security system to protect and monitor their children provided the following advice: “Children must be taught. This means they must also be supervised. Use the cameras to your advantage. You never know when an emergency may arise and could be avoided by monitoring.”