Survey: Home security cameras are cheap, but might be addictive

Installing a home video camera security surveillance system has never been easier. Some of the best don’t even require hard-wiring. And many good systems don’t cost much.

“The surveillance systems you can buy are not only more affordable, they often have much better quality that what you would have found even a decade ago. They can record more video and they are smaller,” said Jacob Channel at LendingTree.

Its recent survey of homeowners found that 51% of U.S. homeowners are now utilizing some form of surveillance technology in or around their homes. That jumped to 72% among millennial homeowners with children.

Older surveillance systems often took professional installation and intrusive wiring. Many new systems don’t. But that can make security cameras their own security risk.

“They can be susceptible to hackers. So do keep that in mind if you do get these types of cameras be sure that they’re not only on a password protected WiFi network, but also that the cameras themselves are password protected,” Channel said.

Homeowners who have them cite peace of mind among their advantages, with 63% believing their cameras have prevented potential criminal activity on their property, such as an attempted break-in or package theft.

Home surveillance systems can have a downside.

“There are risks associated, from someone spying on you or maybe you get addicted to the cameras, and start using them for things you shouldn’t be using them for like watching your spouse when they don’t know about it,” Channel said.

“The technology is neat. It’s interesting. It can be very helpful to have these kinds of cameras. But you don’t want to become obsessed with them or ignore the potential downsides.”

In LendingTree’s survey, 15% admitted to using their cameras to monitor their spouse, and that jumped to 25% among millennials.

LendingTree’s full security surveillance camera report, survey results and methodology are online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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