Latchkey kids, the Coalition for Children explains, is a term that first arose during World War II when mothers went to work in factories while fathers were off at war. A latchkey kid is a child who is left at home unsupervised. Today, with many single-parent and dual-income families, Parents estimates that out of every 25 children in elementary school, one child goes home to an empty house. If your child is a latchkey kid, having a security company install a smart home monitoring system can both keep your child safe and help you parent while at work.

Keeping Latchkey Kids Safe

The foundation of any home security system is safety. Even the most basic surveillance service will include features like burglar alarms that will alert your child and automatically contact the security company if there is a potential intruder.

In addition to protecting your child from intruders, many systems will also automatically notify your local fire department if the smoke detectors go off. Parents with especially young latchkey kids find this feature especially comforting. If your child is just learning "stop, drop and roll," a system that automatically notifies the fire department will ensure that they respond promptly to any possible fire.

Ensuring Latchkey Kids Are Comfortable

A smart home monitoring system can also keep your child comfortable. Many security companies carry smart devices that aren't related to safety, such as smart thermostats and remotely controlled lighting. A smart thermostat lets you program your heater and air conditioner to turn on a few minutes before your kid comes home, ensuring that the house will be a comfortable temperature when they walk in the door. With remotely controlled lighting, you can make your home look welcoming by turning on the lights shortly before your child arrives.

Connecting with Latchkey Kids

IP security cameras, which many security companies carry, let you take an even more hands-on approach to remote parenting. You can set a pre-scheduled time to connect with your child via the camera's video feed, which you can access on your smartphone or computer. You can use this short, daily meeting to:

  • make sure your child arrives home safely
  • relay directions for preparing dinner
  • discuss the evening's schedule
  • check up on homework assignments

Helping Latchkey Kids Who Forget

Latchkey kids, like all kids, will eventually forget something. Specifically, your child will eventually either forget or lose their key. Without a smart security system, they'd have to wait for you to get home, go to a neighbor's house or use a hidden key. Hiding a key for them to use in an emergency is the most convenient of these options, but it leaves your home vulnerable to burglars who might go snooping around for just such an opportunity.

With a smart security system, you can simply unlock the front door from your smartphone. Additionally, you can lock the door after they get in, in case they forget to.

Coordinating with Latchkey Kids' Summer Schedules

With summer here, your child's schedule will likely become much more varied. As they make plans to hang out with friends, attend camps and go to parks, their schedule will look very different from one day to the next.

A smart home monitoring system can easily adapt to changing schedules, because it doesn't need to be pre-programmed. While you can program your thermostat, lights and locks in advance, you can also make adjustments on the fly to accommodate your child's schedule -- even when it changes multiple times in a single day.

Don't feel guilty if you have a latchkey kid. There are millions of children who are home alone, especially during summer. With a smart home monitoring system, you can still ensure that your child is safe and have an active role as their parent -- even when you aren't at home. Talk with a security company, such as Security Services Northwest, Inc, to learn more about how these systems provide safety but also much more.