LifeShield survey covers range of uses for residential security systems

68 percent said they would use a system to see if their children opened doors for strangers
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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

LANGHORNE, Pa.—In a recent survey from LifeShield, a provider of wireless home security systems based here, respondents discuss using home security systems for more than arming and disarming against intruders—checking in on their children, too.

“We were really interested in understanding how our customer base, specifically those with children in the house, … use home security over and above the primary job of providing protection to life and property and from fire and flood and things of that nature,” Megan Parzych, LifeShield’s SVP marketing, told Security Systems News.

About 900 people responded to the survey, across a seven-day period in early September, Parzych said. LifeShield frequently surveys its users. “We try to do one at least once a quarter. As we start to really look at the customer experience … they are the best feedback group that you could have,” she said.

The surveyed parents also responded that they were likely or very likely to monitor proactive behaviors and passive threats to their children, LifeShield said in the announcement of its findings, such as if they opened doors for strangers (68 percent), which friends they invited over when parents aren’t home (63 percent), if they snuck out of the house (61 percent), or if they made it home before curfew (61 percent).

“We expected that people were using [their systems] a certain way. … The objective here was to get a better sense of how they were using it and also what they weren’t aware of,” Doug Bellenger, LifeShield’s chief product officer, told SSN.

While users look for their systems to pick up events that happen, such as a break in, they are also looking for things that do not occur, such as if their children do not come home on time from school, Bellenger said.

About 20 percent of respondents said they hadn’t considered using their home security system to monitor their children. Though, when asked about specific scenarios, about three quarters of respondents said they would be likely or very likely to monitor their children if the children are home when strangers are outside (76 percent), to make sure they got home safely after school or camp if the parents weren’t home (74 percent) and to see if their children properly locked the house when alone or leaving the home (74 percent).

More than half of the responding parents—52 percent—said they were likely or highly likely to monitor sensitive areas, such as a liquor cabinet, family medicine cabinets, gun storage or household petty cash. Twenty-two percent of parents said they would “never consider” monitoring sensitive areas in the home.

“One thing that really did surprise me [was] that there were some folks who said that they have never considered using their home security system to help monitor the safety of their children,” Parzych said.

Parents were also asked in the survey about whether using their home security system to monitor behavior was a violation of their children’s privacy. Thirty-eight percent said it was their responsibility to ensure their children were safe and supervised, and saw their home security system as one way of doing that. Twenty-seven percent said it depended on the child, their maturity level and the situation at hand. Fifteen percent said that the kids know the system is there and that it may be used for that purpose. One percent said that it was “never appropriate” to monitor their kids. Lastly, 19 percent said they did not feel any of those descriptions represented their attitudes on the matter.

“Every situation and every home is different, but … once parents are aware that they’re not necessarily spying on them, but actually just monitoring to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves or get into a situation—I think that’s where you end up seeing the key value,” Bellenger said.

Survey respondents also weighed in on activities they would never considering using the system to monitor, such as if their children followed household rules (38 percent), completed their household chores (34 percent), used the car without approval (30 percent), or doing homework or studying (26 percent).

Though, some monitoring would depend on the circumstance, some respondents said. For example, respondents would monitor following household rules such as no food in the living room (29 percent), completion of household chores (29 percent), doing homework or respecting study time (29 percent), monitoring sensitive areas such as liquor cabinet, medicine cabinet, gun storage or household petty cash (26 percent), which friends they invited over when parents aren’t home (25 percent), and if their children made it home before curfew (23 percent.)

Residential alarm dealers can keep some of these points in mind during a sales process, “so that you can protect somebody from emergencies that occur inside the home, just as well as burglaries,” Bellenger said, and help parents understand the benefits when they’re not at home.

The survey benefited LifeShield with more perspective “on how we can better educate our existing customers on things that they can do that they’re not currently doing to protect their kids,” Parzych said.

“After this, we’ll tailor the content and some of the messaging to help them see the areas that they may not have seen,” Bellenger said. “It’s really on us to make sure that we help them realize the opportunity.”