Dear Crabby, Are Smart Homes a Good Idea?

 

Dear Crabby,

It seems everyone I know these days has one of those smart devices—Dot, Echo, etc. Some are even going as far to connect their entire homes to be ‘smart.’ But I wonder if it’s safe. What do you think?

Thanks!
Lance Luddite

Dear Lance Luddite,

Because I’m such a hip guy I know exactly what you’re talking about. And you’re right. Those smart devices have gone from the palm of our hands to taking over our homes. In fact, I just read that the number of smart homes in North America is expected to hit 73 million by 2021. That’s more than 50 percent of all households!

For those of you that aren’t quite as hip as me, let me give you the scoop: a ‘smart home’ is the term used when describing a residence where just about every electric device: appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment systems, and security systems can communicate with each other and be controlled remotely by a smartphone or the internet. Not only are these homes supposed to make life more convenient, but they’re also supposed to save the homeowner money and energy.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

One of my nephews has a ‘smart home.’ We were over for some family gathering and it was time to roundup the kids for dinner. I was expecting him to yell from the bottom of the stairs to the second floor like we did growing up. Boy, I sure was shocked when he told Alexa to tell the kids it was time for dinner. What in the world? Turns out they have one of those thingys on every floor in the house, so they can communicate with each other even when they’re not in the same room. It’s kind of cool, but I think it would creep me out to hear a voice of someone who wasn’t there. Although I don’t think I’d mind that that Ring whatchamacallit where you can see who is ringing your doorbell. I could have fun with that. Especially when it comes to solicitors and politicians. Now of course with all this fandangled technology comes the worry about security. I mean if people can hack Facebook and Target, they can probably hack a home. So, before you freak out and go into ‘Big Brother is watching me’ mode lemme tell you there are some precautions you can take and if you have an ounce of common sense you will. First, make it sure the user has to enter more than one type of identification to operate the ‘toys.’ Next, make sure you do security updates when prompted and it wouldn’t hurt to install malware software for extra protection. And for the love, use a secured network, and change any default usernames and passwords (hint: using ‘Password’ as your password isn’t smart.). If these internet bandits want your info so badly, make ‘em work for it!

Come to think of it, we had smart homes back in my day, complete with a built-in ‘Alexa’… we just called her mom. Didn’t matter what we asked her, mom always knew the answer. Mrs. Crabby is the same way. I don’t know if once you become a mom all the information you’ll ever need is suddenly ‘downloaded’ to your brain, but it sure beats having to go look up information for yourself. And for now, that’s all the smart home I need.

Hope that answers your question!
Dear Crabby

 

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at DearCrabby@rochestermedia.com.

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