Arguably, it’s never been harder to keep a teenager safe. Intensified social pressures and fewer boundaries between the home environment and the outside world have led to pitfalls the previous generation couldn’t even imagine. To avoid adding to these potential pitfalls, the design of your house and its amenities can have a substantial effect on the behavior, management, and overall safety of your teen. What follows is not only broad ideas about the design of your home, but some of the statistics that shows increasing popularity in these elements of home improvement and design.
Inside-Out: High and Low-Tech Safeguards
It’s hard enough trying to keep your teenager safe when they leave the house, so when you go out and leave your teenager at home, you should be able to feel confident that he or she is safe. Unfortunately, there can be just as many dangers inside the home as out. Today, parents have a lot more to worry about than fire hazards and strangers coming to the front door. Computers and TV can introduce a number of dangerous elements into the home.
Your teenager may very well know more about the Internet than you do. Many filters are ineffective as Internet-savvy teenagers can use a web proxy to circumvent these restrictions. In fact, your teenager may be using your home computer to circumvent restricted websites at school. Worse yet, unsafe web traffic is a constant danger. Dangerous persons may be trying to lull your kid into meeting face-to-face through a growing number of social networking sites. Disturbingly, even some pornographic websites advertise ways of meeting other users in the real world. Meanwhile, cyber-based con-artists have set up online scams, including ways of stealing your identity.
By calling in a computer professional, you can make sure your computer has the most advanced safeguards, including an evaluation of lingering vulnerabilities, and new ways of tracking your PCs online activity.
Low-Tech Safeguards: Locked Cabinets
Some parents don’t like the idea of invisible filters being the only thing between their teenagers and access to dangerous media outlets. One low-tech—but extremely effective—way to restrict your teenager’s access is to put your computer and TV into locked cabinets. Not too long ago, liquor cabinets were the only cabinets parents might have thought needed to be locked. Now, a locked cabinet might just be the best defense for any number of potentially harmful household items. Of course, don’t get so focused on restricting online materials and cable channels that you ignore the rest of your home. Locked liquor cabinets can still be an important step.
Despite the popularity and low cost of pre-manufactured cabinets, for example, hiring a carpenter to build custom cabinets for specialized purposes has increased 37 percent over the past two years. Electronic locksmiths, an almost entirely new area of home improvement, saw 1,190 requests in 2006 jump to around 25,000 requests in 2008. Computer networking requests—both installing and modifying networks—have increased by about 67 percent over the past two years. Finally, home security systems, our final topic, have increased by 35.9 percent over the past two years.
What to Look for in a New Home
You need to strike a balance between privacy and responsible monitoring. You may want a master bedroom separate from the rest of the house, but if your kids have to pass in front of your bedroom, they may be less daring in trying to sneak out. Windows can be a big problem, too. Second-story bedrooms will discourage the classic teenage exit, but they can also create a safety hazard. Walk-out basement may provide an all-too-easy method of escape for your teenager. On the other hand, making the route too difficult from your kids’ rooms out of the house is an irresponsible fire hazard. Generally speaking, some form of middle ground is best, as the ultimate goal should be an awareness of your kids’ activities without creating a prison-like home.
Use Modern Security Systems to Retrofit Your Home
Just because you’re worried your teenager might be sneaking out doesn’t mean a new home has to be in your future. The most comprehensive way of monitoring your teenager is to install a home security system that makes it as difficult to sneak out of the house as it is to break in. Motion-sensor lighting is a good idea, but motion-activated security cameras will allow you to see what goes on around your house without spending countless hours watching video footage. These systems may not be cheap, but they’re cheaper than moving into a new home. They also provide the fastest, most efficient way to ensure your teenager can’t break curfew or grounding without you knowing about it.
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