February 28, 2021

Get Peace of Mind With These 4 Consumer Technologies

Unless you live off the grid, technology has undoubtedly become part and parcel of your daily life. We have smartphones, GPS, and the ability to change the thermostat at home before leaving the office. Technology can make our lives infinitely more convenient and comfortable.

That is, until we start thinking about all the potential technology holds for making our lives less secure. Possible dangers come in many forms. Hacking, device addiction, and exposure to the entire internet are just a few.

Fortunately, there are ways you can enjoy the advantages of technology safely. Here are four consumer technologies that will, with the appropriate precautions, give you peace of mind.

1. Smartphones

It’s difficult to imagine life without a smartphone. We use them to stay in touch, connect to the internet, play games, and listen to music. They are our greatest safety device, giving us the ability to call for help if we need to.

Connection and safety are two key reasons kids benefit from smartphones. But balancing those benefits with the potential dangers of this technology can be a challenge for parents.

Fortunately, there are safe cell phones for kids. These smartphones allow children to make phone calls and send texts to one person at a time. Kids can also take photos and videos and listen to music.

What they typically can’t do is connect to the internet, download apps, or access social media. Not having those features keeps kids safe and less likely to become addicted to the device.

For the same reasons smartphones are safety tools for kids, they’re safety tools for elderly family members as well. Unlike most smartphone users, though, older adults may need bigger screens and keys and fewer apps and features.

There are numerous choices of great smartphones for older adults. Most of these phones have safety features such as one-button 911 calling, emergency network capability, GPS tracking, and health monitoring.

These smartphone choices for young and old users feature all the benefits without the worries.

2. Smart Locks

The smart locks market was $1.62 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $3.27 billion by 2025. The appeal of a smart lock is understandable. You can change the code anytime and program multiple codes for guests rather than leaving a key under the mat.

Potential problems include being unable to use remote commands if there’s a power failure (the locking mechanism itself is battery operated) and getting hacked remotely. An old-fashioned thief would at least have to jimmy your front door to break in.

If you want the advantages of a smart lock while minimizing the possible problems, don’t skimp. Smart locks are available at price points ranging from $150 to $400 for residential models. With these gadgets, you likely get what you pay for.

A lock that will truly make you feel more secure should have several safety features. Start with strong construction, as a wimpy-looking device will be tempting to would-be burglars. You’ll also want a built-in alarm to scare off potential intruders.

Digital assistant voice control capability is great for those who have trouble with keys and keypads. Just make sure any voice control has to be authenticated with a PIN, for example, during setup.

Finally, look for a smart lock that doesn’t need to be hooked up to your smart home hub. That way, a hacker would have to break into at least two systems rather than one.

If you’re ready to throw away the key, go for it. There are features that can increase your sense of security about your security.

3. Digital Assistant Devices

Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Bixby, Alice. Millions of people have brought these digital assistants into their homes. It is forecasted that by 2024, the number will hit 8.4 billion units. That’s more digital assistants than there people in the world!

Ask a question and get an answer. Play music. Get recommendations or directions. What’s not to love about digital assistants?

Just remember, the secret behind the magic involves uploading your commands, questions, and conversations to the cloud. Recording those things is what makes the device more intuitive.

Moreover, if you’re using Alexa, Amazon employees may be listening to your conversations. They do it to improve the algorithms that make Alexa marvel she is. Nonetheless, it’s Big Brother creepy.

You do have access to what’s recorded and the power to delete conversations using settings in the Alexa app. You can delete everything at once, but be aware you’ll take that intuitive relationship back to day one.

You might opt instead to play each recording and delete conversations selectively. It is a good idea to delete recordings containing personal, health or financial information. But it’s probably not necessary to get rid of those daily Q&As about the weather.

There are many advantages to bringing in a digital assistant to live with you. Just remember that your conversations aren’t completely confidential unless you take the steps to make them so.

4. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things might just be the best thing since sliced bread. Or at least the best thing since the advent of cloud computing. You can have all sorts of actions happening in your home when you aren’t even there.

IoT provides an instant sense of comfort by confirming that you did turn off the oven or shut the garage door. You can see who’s at your front door when you’re on another continent. And how great is it to check the contents of your fridge before you leave the grocery store?

For all the wonders of IoT, there are some safety concerns. After all, the technology makes each smart item its own computer, and that means these devices can be hacked.

Connect a cybersecurity smart device to your home network to secure them all. These devices are like massive firewalls between hackers and every single component of your IoT setup.

Monitor IoT activity with an app. Assess vulnerabilities in your system. You can even keep your smart TV and digital assistant from going online when you don’t want them to.

Don’t give up the luxury of the IoT devices that can make your home more comfortable. Simply add the technology that will make them more secure.

On the path to solving many daily problems, tech gadgets can create some of their own. Fortunately, the number of security options for everything from smartphones to smart homes continues to grow. And with that comes greater peace of mind.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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