One of the many benefits of smart home technology is the ability to keep tabs on your home when you can’t be there. Forgot to turn off the lights? Do it remotely. Not sure if you shut the garage door? Check on your smartphone and close it. But did you realize you can also use smart home devices to monitor the people in your home? More specifically and most importantly, you can use smart home devices to keep tabs on your children.
The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about using technology to monitor the safety of our kids is a smartphone. These devices let you enable GPS tracking, so you can see where they are, as well as stay in touch with them via phone calls and text messages. But having a smart home can let you delay giving one of these controversial devices to your child for a little bit longer. Use smart home devices to talk to your children and send them messages in the house, as well as know when they’re home and when they’ve left.
Here is a look at 6 smart home devices that can help you connect with your family:
A smart speaker lets you call home to check in on your kids (who has a landline anymore?). The feature, called a Drop In on some devices, allows you to automatically Drop In, meaning the kids don’t have to actually answer the call (so they can’t ignore you). Some also have a camera and video screen, you can also see them and have a video call with them.
 Wi-Fi-Enabled Camera
In the same vein, with a connected, Wi-Fi-enabled camera, you can pop in on your home using the device’s app on your smartphone. You can see what the kids are doing and even get notifications for certain activities. Set up motion and noise alerts through the camera’s smartphone app and get a notification when someone’s in the house.
 Video Doorbell
If you’re not that comfortable having a camera in your home, a video doorbell is a good compromise, as it only records activity outside your home. Some options even include facial recognition, so you can set it up to receive a notification that “Peter is at the front door.”
Your child doesn’t even have to ring the doorbell to trigger the notification, just motion at the front door will set the camera to record. You can also rewind footage from the doorbell camera, so you can look back and see when someone arrived home.
 Smart Door Lock
If you just don’t want a camera at all, a smart door lock can give you the peace of mind that your child made it home from school or soccer safely. Smart door locks can identify who has unlocked them. Choose one that offers personalized entry codes, so when your child enters theirs on the keypad you get an alert on your smartphone. You can also look in the app’s history to see who unlocked the door, and if for some reason they can’t get in, some smart door locks can be operated remotely so you can unlock it for them.
 Security Tabs and Motion Sensors
Attach a motion sensor to a wall or on the floor near a front and/or back door and receive an alert when motion is detected. If you have pets, however, you’ll want to place it up high, so it doesn’t capture their motion, but low enough that your child will still be detected.
A security tab (often referred to as a presence or arrival sensor) is a small device you can attach to a backpack, keychain, or bracelet, and when it enters the home, or is used to de-active a security system, you receive a notification on your smartphone.
Also, if you have a smart home security system installed—with or without personalized tabs—it will come with contact sensors you place on your doors. You can set notifications in the app to be alerted every time the door opens or closes—which may be all you need to have the peace of mind that your child has made it home.
 GPS Tracker
There are a variety of smart band-style GPS trackers you can put on your kid’s wrists, but the newest models can even connect your child to your smart home. Simply attach it to your child’s backpack or jacket, letting you know where your child is at all times. When the tracker comes home it can trigger smart home routines, such as unlocking the front door, turning the lights on, and sending you an alert. Your child doesn’t have to do anything, and you have peace of mind.
Much to our dismay, we may not be able to monitor our kids’ every move, but we can be smarter about keeping track of them with today’s technology.
Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and editor covering the intersection of sustainability and technology for xfinity.com. She writes about the smart home, mobile phone technology, consumer tech, small businesses, and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazines and online publications.