In the past ‘smart homes’ were crammed with wires that connected devices, making repairs or upgrades a costly exercise. Now overlapping wireless connections such as wi-fi, 3G and 4G provide almost constant wire-free connections. With wifi-enabled devices such as light bulbs, thermostats and security systems our homes can adapt and change to suit our daily needs.
But the speed of your broadband has a direct impact on how well your smart devices perform. The load on your home wifi network is ever increasing, so it’s really important to ensure you have a constant speed throughout the house.
According to Cian O’Carroll of Reon Technologies who specialises in installing home automation systems: “The router supplied by your internet service provider is generally a cheap device designed for a small home. Modern homes with quality insulation and older homes with thick walls require multiple wifi access points and a decent quality router to ensure even and reliable coverage.”
The increasing number of wirelessly connected devices in our homes could prove irresistible to hackers. And according to a recent article in the New York Times “it could allow them to spread malicious code through the air, like a flu virus on an airplane”.
Many of the inexpensive versions of smart devices like light bulbs and security cameras can leave your network open to hacking. Rather than relying on the router provided by your broadband supplier it’s worth getting a professional to provide a more advanced version which will be more reliable and secure.
Another area of concern with things moving increasingly online is internet safety for kids. So it’s really important for parents to feel they have some control over the internet usage in their homes. One solution is to have two networks, one for parents and a separate one for kids, both of which run from the same router but can be managed independently.
“Only the adult has access to the parent wifi network and the kids network can be simply managed to allow access at certain times and days of the week. This is great for younger children to keep them safe and for older children it can be useful during school term and at exam time”, says Cian O’Carroll.
If you are concerned about your child’s internet safety you could consider setting up a passcode on all of the devices they can access the internet with – that only you know. It’s also worth ensuring each device has a block on any types of site you consider to be risky.
It’s important to educate children about the nasty side of the internet but it can often fall on deaf ears. There are, however, some wonderful online resources which children really respond to such as The Cynja which is an online comic that helps to educate “kids of all ages” to help them make smart choices online and learn about online safety.