The answer depends on both state laws and your child’s maturity. Eight is probably the youngest age it’s safe to leave a child alone, but depending on area guidelines and your child’s abilities, age 10–14 may be a bit safer.
While Kevin McCallister did just fine at age 7, most states have guidelines suggesting the age to leave a child alone, and a few even have specific limits. Additionally, you should take into account your child’s capabilities: Do they know how to contact authorities in the event of an emergency? Can they keep themselves safe for a few hours? These factors and others should go into the decision of whether to leave your child home alone.
Connected Devices Help You Keep an Eye on Kids Old Enough to Be Alone
If you check your local legislation and evaluate your child’s abilities and determine that they’ll be safe alone, consider bringing home some products to ensure your kids stay safer when you’re not home.
- Wearable Devices: Give your kids GPS bracelets so you can stay in the know at all times. These bracelets track your child’s whereabouts, let you set emergency contacts and safety perimeters, and allow your kids to call you if they’re in trouble. Some GPS bracelets like AngelSense are made especially for kids with special needs, so they let you listen in to see what’s happening.
- Home Security Systems: Home security systems range in function and pricing, but there are many options to tailor a perfect solution to your household. If you’re worried about your kids, choose a home security system with lots of home automation features so you can check in on them from wherever you are—getting alerts when they open the front door, get a visitor, or set off a smoke alarm. Get help finding the perfect home security system for your family.
- Smart Video Cameras: You can purchase surveillance cameras, baby monitors, and nanny cams to keep an eye on your kids at all times. Purchase these video cameras independently from a larger home security system or with additional safety gadgets. To get the ultimate home security for your family, we recommend going with a full home security system.
- Smart Doorbells: Knock, knock? You’ll know who’s there when you install smart doorbells. These futuristic devices have a video camera, wireless signal, and motion sensor so they turn on whenever someone comes to the door. You can sync your smart doorbell to your phone through an app, so whenever someone comes knocking while your child is home alone, you’ll get a real-time alert to see who it is. Most smart doorbells also offer two-way voice communication, so you can find out what the person wants before advising your child on how to proceed.
- Smart Door Locks: What goes perfectly with a smart doorbell? A smart door lock. These cool safety devices let you arm and disarm your deadbolts from wherever you are. If your kids come home from school but don’t have a key, let them in through the app. This also helps you control who your kids let in the house when you’re not around. Plus, you’ll get alerts when the doors are locked and unlocked, so you’ll be aware of who’s coming and going and at what hours.
- Smart Smoke and CO Alarms: Smoke and fire can engulf a home in mere minutes. Keep your family and precious belongings safer with smart smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. This type of smart technology is a literal lifesaver. The Nest Protect, for instance, can sync with your smart thermostats to turn off the furnace if it detects fire. It can also alert you through phone notifications if smoke is detected—perfect for keeping tabs on your kids’ safety while you’re not home.
Babysitters Help Watch Children Who Are Too Young to Be Alone
If you have a busy schedule and can’t be home when your kids get off the bus, consider hiring a nanny or babysitter. Companies like Care.com carefully vet all nannies with thorough background checks and interviews. You can read reviews from other parents to see what caretakers are like before you welcome them into your home.
Plenty of safety devices and smart gadgets on the market can help you keep your kids safe when they are old enough to stay home alone. Consult our resources hub or explore home security products to keep your household happy, healthy, and secure.