Sexually Transmitted Diseases by State – 2019

A state by state breakdown of sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the United States. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have all drastically increased. Chlamydia saw a 22 percent increase from 2014 to 2017, gonorrhea rose 67 percent, and syphilis 76 percent.

We wanted to know which states had the highest rates of each of the STDs. Data was pulled from the most recent STD Surveillance Report done in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC's surveillance report gathers its information from various sources including state and local STD programs and surveillance networks.

We selected the four most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases the CDC monitors which are: gonorrhea, chlamydia, primary and secondary syphilis, and congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis is diagnosed in infants when a pregnant mother passes syphilis to her baby. We looked at cases, populations, and rankings for all four infections in all 50 states.

Chlamydia statistics

Alarms Heat map State Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted disease in the United States. It is a bacterial infection known as the silent epidemic for women since symptoms don't manifest in many cases for several months and can lead to fertility problems.

Since states with the highest populations have the most cases, we figured the infection rate per 100,000 people.

States with the highest rate of infection:

  1. Alaska (nearly 800 cases per capita)
  2. Louisiana (742)
  3. Mississippi (707)
  4. New Mexico (651)
  5. South Carolina (649)

States with the lowest rate of infection:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Vermont
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Utah
  5. Maine

State chlamydia rate per 100k

RankStateCasesRate Per 100K
4New Mexico13,560651.6
5South Carolina32,235649.8
7North Carolina62,876619.7
9New York116,814591.6
23South Dakota4,437512.7
26Rhode Island5,282500
40North Dakota3,278432.5
43New Jersey35,239394
48New Hampshire4,412330.5
50West Virginia4,140226.1

Gonorrhea statistics

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The CDC is particularly concerned with gonorrhea, as the strain has become antibiotic resistant and doctors are running out of ways to treat it.

States with the highest rate of infection (per 100,000 people):

  1. Mississippi (300)
  2. Alaska (295.1)
  3. Louisiana (256.7)
  4. South Carolina (254.4)
  5. Alabama (245.7)

​States with the lowest rate of infection (per 100,000 people):

  1. Vermont
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Maine
  4. Idaho
  5. Wyoming

State gonorrhea rate per 100k

RankStateCasesRate Per 100K
4South Carolina12,623254.4
7North Carolina22,871225.4
10New Mexico4,489215.7
29South Dakota1,290149.1
33North Dakota966127.4
40New Jersey9,439105.5
41Rhode Island1,087102.9
45West Virginia1,29670.8
49New Hampshire51338.4

Syphilis statistics

Alarms Heat map State Primary and Secondary Syphilis

Syphilis is a deadly bacterial infection with four stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. The CDC's numbers focus on primary and secondary infections, as most patients in the United States are treated before it reaches the final two stages. In the early 2000s, it reached historically low levels and there were hopes the disease would be eradicated. However, it has consistently risen since then.

States with the highest rate of infection (per 100,000 people) are:

  1. Louisiana (93)
  2. Nevada (57.9)
  3. California (57.5)
  4. Texas (44.2)
  5. Florida (41.3)

States with the lowest rate of infection (per 100,000 people) include:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Alaska
  3. Vermont
  4. Nebraska
  5. Wisconsin

State primary and secondary syphilis rate per 100k

RankStateCasesRate Per 100K
8North Carolina1,13811.2
14New Mexico1939.3
22South Carolina3617.3
24Rhode Island716.7
30North Dakota445.8
31New Jersey4995.6
40South Dakota333.8
42West Virginia623.4
44New Hampshire433.2

Congenital syphilis statistics

Congenital syphilis is a truly tragic and heartbreaking illness. It is syphilis that is passed from mother to infant. The disease has seen a 154 percent increase since 2013. Nearly half of all children infected while in the womb do not survive.

The U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce now recommends all pregnant mothers are tested for syphilis at their first prenatal screening. Antibiotics can prevent the mother from passing the disease on to their newborn.

States with the highest rate of congenital syphilis (per 100,000 people) are:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Nevada
  3. California
  4. Texas
  5. Florida


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is fighting an uphill battle trying to get STD rates back down to where they were in the early 2000s. Last year, the CDC announced $92.5 million in grants were available for state and city health departments to strengthen STD prevention and control programs. The money can be used to conduct STD surveillance, respond to outbreaks and promote CDC recommended awareness campaigns, screening, diagnosis and treatment. Money was given to communities in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Overall score

To find a state's overall score, we took an average of their rankings. The lower the score the higher rate of STDs in that state. States with the highest rate of STDs are Louisiana (2.3), Georgia (7.3), North Carolina (7.8), California (8.0) and Nevada (8.5). Vermont has the lowest score of 47.8, followed by Wyoming and New Hampshire at 46.3, Idaho at 44 and Utah at 43.3. While Alaska has high rankings per capita with gonorrhea and chlamydia, it has extremely low syphilis rankings and no cases of congenital syphilis, bringing its score down to 24.


Data was pulled from the 2017 STD Surveillance Report done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since population density affects the number of cases in each state, case numbers were put through a per capita equation to represent the number of cases per 100,000. The overall rankings were figured by taking an average of a state’s individual rankings for gonorrhea, chlamydia, primary and secondary syphilis and congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis is when the disease is passed from mother to infant but is still considered an STD by the CDC. Congenital syphilis was omitted when figuring the percentages of each state's population with STDs. The CDC draws its data from three sources: notifiable disease reporting from state and local STD programs, projects that monitor STD positivity and prevalence and national surveys and other data collection systems implemented by federal and private organizations. A new STD Surveillance Report should come out this year to show statistics for 2018.

Alarms Heat mapSTD avg

Average STD State Rank

StateAverage STD State Rank
North Carolina7.8
South Carolina11.0
New Mexico15.5
New York16.0
South Dakota29.5
Rhode Island33.8
North Dakota36.8
West Virginia39.5
New Hampshire46.3
Alarms Heat map STD 100k

State STD rate per 100k

RankStateSTD rate per 100k
4South Carolina1100.19
5New Mexico1084.56
8North Carolina1037.17
14New York933.96
23South Dakota834.44
33Rhode Island723.32
36North Dakota706.76
43New Jersey612.37
48New Hampshire438.19
50West Virginia365.11
Alarms Heat map percentage of population with an STD

State percentage of population with an STD

RankStatePercentage of population with an STD
4South Carolina1.1
5New Mexico1.08
8North Carolina1.04
15New York0.93
23South Dakota0.83
33Rhode Island0.72
35North Dakota0.71
43New Jersey0.61
48New Hampshire0.44
50West Virginia0.37

Welcome Kidrex!

At, we spend a lot of time thinking about safety, both online and off, and how we can help make the world a better place for future generations. A Safe environment is the best way to help make sure our kids can grow and flourish.

We know the internet is not always the safest place for kids. Between cyberbullying and insane content, the unfiltered internet is not always the best place for kids to be. That’s why we’re happy to announce that we’ve acquired KidRex, the leading internet search engine built on top of Google for kids.

Will anything change on KidRex?

In the near future, no. In fact, the only thing we’ve done so far is remove the annoying ads that were on the bottom of the home page.

Is KidRex still filtered and safe for kids?

The underlying technology for KidRex has not changed and you, your kids/students will receive the same experience.

What does the future hold for Kidrex?

We have a long list of features in mind for KidRex, including a mobile app, customized versions for your school, and more.

We’d also love to hear your feedback and ideas, so feel free to get in touch.

What is

You can read all about us here.

I have a question/comment?

Get in touch.

Was the Dinosaur harmed during the move?

Nope – the KidRex dinosaur is an easy going sort and he made the move no problem at all. He’s very happy in his new home.


The Ten Best Rated Home Security Systems for 2019

The 10 Best Rated Home Security Systems for 2019

Our Top Pick



Overall Score: ​4.6 / 5

A state-of-the-art system and advanced home automation features.

Best for Customization


Overall Score: ​4.6 / 5

Customized security and home automation system for home or small business in minutes.

Best DIY System


Overall Score: ​ 4.0 /5

Easy-to-setup. Small, powerful, and stylish. No middlemen. No contracts.

Just a couple decades ago, the home security industry was dominated by a few big names offering expensive, rigid plans with little flexibility and unfriendly, long-term contracts. Systems were limited to a couple wired motion sensors connected to a keypad control panel and run through a landline. Nowadays, this has all changed.

While some vestiges of the old industry remain, today’s homeowners are presented with a lot more options. Wireless technology and home automation features have beefed up the strength of home security, while granting customers unprecedented control and customizability over their equipment. At the same time, newer companies like SimpliSafe and Scout have introduced new, flexible payment plans that allow you to pay month-to-month, rather than forcing you to commit to a long-term agreement with harsh cancellation penalties.

With so many home security options these days, it can be hard to choose the right one, that’s why we’re presenting this list of 2018’s best rated home security systems to ease the selection process. Along with summaries of the system’s features and pricing options, we talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each so you can decide which best suits your needs. Good luck in keeping your home safe!

1. Vivint

Through its twenty-one years in the home security industry, Vivint Smart Home has grown to become one of the top providers in the U.S. and Canada, supplying service to over a million homeowners. Concurrently, the company has also earned a name as a trailblazer with its advanced equipment and home automation features, finding a spot on Fast Company’s World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list in 2017. Vivint supplies some of the most state-of-the-art systems in the industry, although it’s overall rating is marred by inadequate customer service and lengthy lock-in contracts.

Vivint shines through its proprietary equipment, which stands out in its sleekness and functionality compared to that of its competitors. The system’s operating hub is the Sky Control, a 7-inch color touchscreen device from which you activate and deactivate your system, lock and unlock doors, view video feeds, adjust smart home devices, and much more. Vivint’s other devices such as sensors and outdoor and doorbell cameras are equally high-end and compatible with 3rd party smart home devices. The system uses a cellular connection, which protects against burglar wire cutting, but may be an issue in rural areas where the cellular signal is weak.

However, the quality equipment comes at a cost: you have the choice of buying all the equipment upfront and paying month-to-month for a price of around $2000 or signing a 42-60 month contract (the cheapest of which is $39.99 a month) and leasing the equipment. None of the plans offer a money-back guarantee beyond three days, and the cancellation fee is a full 100%, so customers must be positive they want to go with Vivint or suffer expensive consequences.

Rating: 4.6


​   No-contract option

​   Quick event response

​   Cellular-connected system

​   Versatile mobile app

​   Financing option

​   Video doorbell with two-way voice

​   Sleek, portable equipment

​   Door locks, sensors, thermostats all operable with remote control


✗   Long term lock-in contracts

✗   Stiff, 100% cancellation fee

✗   Shabby customer service

✗   Heavy initial equipment costs

✗   Remote access only offered in contract options

✗   Poor customer reviews

2. Link Interactive

A veteran in the industry with 60 years in the home security business, Link Interactive has garnered a great reputation with customers evidenced by its A+ rating on BBB and favorable reviews on sites such as Yelp. The chief positives Link Interactive brings to the table are the wealth of security options offered for different homeowner needs and flexible price points. You can choose which equipment you need and select between three plans of ascending cost. The flexibility extends to the contracts, as well: customers have the option of selecting between 1,2, and 3-year contracts, or having no contract at all. Furthermore, Link Interactive offers a 30-day money back guarantee with no questions asked.

Let’s talk about the equipment: Link Interactive is unique in that it doesn’t force customers to select between pre-set packages (although you can choose one, if you like), instead allowing them to hand pick between fairly-priced individual items through the website. Their equipment comes from reputed manufacturers like 2GIG, Honeywell, and GE, and includes control panels, door and window sensors, automated door locks, environmental sensors, sirens, yard signs and window decals. Basically, anything you’d need to protect your home is available if you’re willing to pay for it.

As mentioned before, plans include the Standard ($30.99 a month, professional monitoring, fire and intrusion alarms, two-way voice to monitoring stations), Gold ($35.99 a month, everything that comes with Standard in addition to home automation features like lights, locks, and a remote control app), and Elite ($40.99, all of the Gold features with added HD video monitoring) plans. Customers get the choice of 12, 24, and 36 month contracts, or a pay-as-you-go option. While you can receive a full refund within 30-days, if you cancel any time after, you must pay 75% of your remaining contractual balance.

Overall, Link Interactive is a great choice for home security compared to some of the bigger names in the industry due to the wide range of equipment options and pricing flexibility. .

Rating: 4.6


✓   Wireless equipment​

✓   30-day trial

   Equipment comes with three-year warranty

   Simple installation

   No installation or activation fees

   Home automation

   Multiple contract options: 1, 2, or 3 years

   Indoor/outdoor cameras coupled with two-way audio

   Three-year rate lock

   Equipment is yours


✗   No professional installation

   Large frontend equipment costs

   No landline or broadband option

3. Frontpoint

A Virginia-based company with over ten years in the business, Frontpoint provides high-end home security with a wireless system, DIY installation and professional monitoring. Available plans allow for some customizability and the customer service is accessible and responsive. Additionally, the more expensive plans include pretty great home automation features and video surveillance for those willing and able to pay for it. Yet, Frontpoint has some drawbacks, including its high prices and severe lock-in contracts. Those weighing the options would do best to read over the contract thoroughly before jumping in.

Frontpoint uses General Electric hardware for its security systems, providing customers with a degree of ease in replacing faulty parts. The equipment is quite good as well: compact and easily installed. Unlike other home security providers, Frontpoint’s security systems are entirely cellular, which means that bad actors cannot disable it by cutting phone lines, but may be a drawback if you live in an area with a weak cellular connection. A three-year warranty is included with your equipment, so don’t worry too much if something fails as the company should replace it.

As far as contracts are concerned, Frontpoint offers one and three year plans, but no pay-as-you-go option. The three plans are as follows:

  • Basic Protection Plan: $34.99 a month. Includes 24/7 monitoring, fire protection, and environmental protection.
  • Interactive Plan: $44.99 a month. Allows you to use the mobile app to remotely control your system and receive text and email alerts.
  • Ultimate Plan: $49.99 a month. All of the features of Interactive in addition to live video streaming, cloud storage for old video, and home automation features.

Overall, Frontpoint provides high-end security with a lot of flexibility, but its high prices and 85% cancellation fee render it a difficult proposition for some.

Rating: 4.2


✓   Simple DIY installation

✓   30-day money-back guarantee

✓   Cellular and email alerts

✓   Option of indoor/outdoor cameras with more expensive plans

✓   Home automation

✓   Disaster protection

✓   Large array of sensors and cameras


​✗   Hard credit check

​✗   Wireless only

​✗   No pay-as-you-go plan

​✗   High cancellation fees

​✗   Poor customer service in regards to contractual details

​✗   Live and recorded video only available for high end plans

4. SimpliSafe

With no lock-in contracts and optional monitoring, SimpliSafe is one of the top home security solutions for customers without a ton of money to spend. The company has been in business for 12 years and boasts an A+ rating with BBB. SimpliSafe’s good reputation with customers stems from its sleek, user-friendly, self-manufactured equipment, flexible pricing and optional monitoring.

SimpliSafe’s equipment comes with a three-year warranty and is 100% wireless. Homeowners can choose between a landline, broadband or cellular connected system, and the system is controlled through a base station rather than through a keypad on a control panel like most home security systems. This gives you added defense against clever crooks who know how to disable a system through damaging the control panel. Devices that come with the SimpliSafe system include the SimpliCam, an indoor camera with a motion sensor and HD video quality, and a keychain remote used to arm or disarm the system. Simplisafe does not include home automation features, other than Nest integration, which may be a turn off for some.

Unlike a majority of home security providers, SimpliSafe has no contracts. After you buy the initial package, with options ranging from $99 for one SimpliCam to $489 for the deluxe Haven package, the system is yours to do what you like with it.. Installation is DIY, but you can opt for a $199 professional installation if you want. Optional monthly monitoring plans cost $14.99 (no mobile control) and $24.99 (mobile control).

By making a conscious effort to right the wrongs of other home security providers by being transparent and not tricking people into long-term lock-in contracts with hidden stipulations, SimpliSafe has earned a reputation as a great choice for homeowners. While more home automation features and additional hardware options would sweeten the pot, you will likely be satisfied with Simplisafe as your home security solution.

Rating: 4.0


✓   Contract-fee

   Simple DIY installation, with installation option

   Wireless equipment

   Environmental disaster protection

   Affordable rates

   60-day trial

   Landline, broadband and cellular options

   Optional monitoring


   Pricey initial equipment costs

✗   No outdoor camera support

✗   No home automation support

5. Scout

A relative newcomer to the home security industry given a boost through crowd funding its first product line, Scout is refreshingly transparent with its service compared to its competitors that often require long-term contracts with harsh cancellation penalties. Though some homeowners may prefer a more elaborate, professionally installed system, Scout is great for the more hands-on inclined customer with its highly customizable equipment and systems. You can opt for either self-monitoring or professional monitoring plans, and neither will set you back too much.

All of the equipment you use with a Scout system is self-manufactured and purchased upfront through the website. The equipment ships with a 60-day full-refund return policy and a 1-3 year limited warranty with few exceptions. Scout security systems are run through the Scout hub, a keypadless device that plugs directly into your router. Instead of the keypad, homeowners control the hub through the Scout Alarm mobile app. Through the app, you can view the status and regulate all of your installed devices: sensors, door panels, and motion detectors. The system is also compatible with home automation devices such as Amazon Alexa devices, Google Home, Nest, and other Z-Wave and Zigbee compatible devices.

After the initial high expense of purchasing equipment, Scout offers two month-to-month subscription plans depending on whether you opt for self or professional monitoring. Always On, the self monitoring plan, costs just $9.99 a month and comes with 4G LTE cellular and battery backup, while AlwaysOn+ goes for $19.99 and includes 24-hour professional monitoring.

Though not as extensive as some of the security solutions offered by market competitors, Scout is a great company with a solid product. Older homeowners might be put off by the lack of a keypad in the central hub, however many customers should be perfectly comfortable controlling everything through their mobile phones.

Rating: 4.0


✓   Reasonably priced

✓   Straightforward DIY installation

✓   Money-back guarantee

✓   Support for Z-Wave and Zigbee

✓   Can opt for contract or contract-less plans

✓   One-to-three year warranty

✓   WiFi with cellular backup

✓   Modern, streamlined design

✓   Support for smart assistant integration


   Heavy reliance on mobile app

   No professional installation

   Requires subscription for self-monitoring with mobile app

   No proprietary camera

6. Brinks Home Security

Brinks Home Security, one of the established names in the industry, recently received a facelift after MONI Smart Security purchased the name rights to the company and gave the company a serious overhaul. The new and improved Brinks Home Security uses MONI monitoring and Livewatch DIY security systems for a more modern package. In terms of cost, Brinks is somewhere in the mid-range: not the cheapest, but not the most expensive, either.

The equipment you receive through Brinks is based on which plan you choose. The company offers two options. The Home Complete Model that comes with a Brinks Home Touch display, three wireless home sensors, one wireless motion sensor and a yard sign for $29 a month with a $249.50 equipment fee. The premium Home Complete Model costs $39 a month (equipment $299.50) adds video and cloud video storage. All the equipment you purchase through Brinks Home Security works through the smart home hub, which is compatible with a majority of smart home devices.

While the prices for both packages are reasonable given what they provide, many customers have left dissatisfactory reviews on Yelp and elsewhere, complaining of poor customer service and deceptive marketing tactics. So, be advised in reading the small print on the contract before signing. However, the 30-day risk free offer and 2-year warranty should alleviate concerns, somewhat. Overall, Brinks Home Security provides a quality product for a decent price in a crowded market.

Rating: 3.9


   30-day money-back guarantee

   Home automation support

✓   Easy DIY installation

   Live video streaming with cloud video storage

✓   Rate-locked contracts

✓   Intuitive, easy to control system


   Long-term contracts

✗   High cancellation fee

✗   Poorly rated customer service

7. Armorax

As a young upstart in the home security industry, Armorax cannot offer the quality assurance based on name recognition like ADT, but it does have a compelling business model, with flexible plans, top-line 2GIG equipment, and a DIY installation option. With Armorax, customers have a lot of leeway in deciding which security solution is right for them, and can let the Armorax do the monitoring, or do it themselves.

Unlike other home security providers, Armorax has you buy equipment yourself, rather than lease it. You can select from the options available including 2GIG control panels, indoor and outdoor cameras, smart locks, etc. at varying cost, or just shell out $649 for a basic system. The hardware comes with a 3-5 year warranty and a $199 installation cost. The level of options, along with the choice of locking in to a three-year contract or the pay-as-you-go option, makes Armorax a great option for homeowners who want a higher level of decision making in their home security solution.

Armorax provides 24/7 monitoring for all manner of crises, including fires, break-ins and medical emergencies. Their response time is less than 2 minutes and alerts will be sent to your phone or email. Self-monitoring, while suspiciously no longer advertised on their website, is available through the mobile app for a fee of $29.95 a month. From the app you can adjust settings, control your system, monitor your camera stream, and receive alerts.

The main drawbacks of Armorex are its ever-shifting pricing structure and insufficient customer support. Not a lot of information is included on the website about means of tech support. The less-than-clear approach to pricing and technical support is understandable for a young company, but not a good look for a one that you’ve tasked with protecting your home.

Rating: 3.9


✓   Mobile and web apps

✓   DIY installation feature

✓   Cloud storage

✓   Flexible pay options

✓   Cellular system

✓   Choice of monitoring options

✓   Z-Wave compatible home automation


✗   Large upfront cost with self-purchase of equipment

✗   Lack of transparency regarding technical support and certain pricing info

✗   Added mobile access fee

8. ADT

American District Telegraph, the oldest home security provider in the United States, continues to put forward a good product. Still the likeliest home security sign you’ll see walking down the street, ADT stays at the top of the field by providing a broad range of services that most of its competitors cannot match, owing its established name and large amount of capital. Few other home security providers will allow customers to connect security systems from other providers, or offer such a wide-ranging choice of plans, including custom solutions, but ADT does.

ADT also shines in its monitoring centers and customer support: 24/7 monitoring from four stations around the US and around-the-clock technical support. In terms of quality, ADT uses top notch equipment by GE, Honeywell, and ITI. Customers can select from a wide range of tools, like high-decibel sirens, entry sensors, motion detectors and more. Another great feature is ADT’s app, which allows remote access to your home system, although it is only available in select packages.

ADT offers three basic packages: Traditional ($28.99 monthly monitoring fee plus $125 installation fee), Control (24/7 monitoring and home automation, $36.99/mo plus installation fee), and Video (all of the above as well as video surveillance, $52.99 a month plus installation fee). In addition to these monthly charges, customers will have to pay an activation fee and sign a three-year contract. Although you may cancel your service within six months if you have a significant service-related concern, after that half a year is up, canceling means being charged 75% of the contract’s remainder. All in all, ADT demands a serious time and cost commitment up front.

Overall, ADT is a very good choice for those who want to go with a trusted name and can afford the expense.

Rating: 3.8


✓   Professional installation

✓   Wireless or hardwired systems

✓   24/7 tech support

✓   Home automation with Smart Assistant Integration

✓   Six-month trial period (with caveats)

✓   Indoor and outdoor cameras

✓   Environmental monitoring


✗   High cost

✗   Three-year lock-in contract

✗   No choice of DIY installation

✗   Warranty limited to certain packages

✗   Features, prices, and equipment options vary by retailer and area

9. Protect America

One of the top home security providers since entering the business in 1992, Protect America provides service for hundreds of thousands of customers around the United States and Canada. They offer flexibility in their equipment and available plans, allowing homeowners to choose the security solution that best suits their needs. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to Protect America indicated by their low C- rating from BBB. A majority of the complaints center around misinformation regarding the mandatory three year contract. In fact, most customers were not aware they were making such a long term commitment. This, coupled with the severe penalty for premature cancellation--100% of the remaining balance plus paying for all of the equipment--may give some pause in choosing Protect America as their home security solution.

Where Protect America shines is in its provided equipment: the company uses Simon control panels and sensors that are compatible with a number of Z-Wave devices built by other manufacturers. Homeowners choose between the Simon XT Pushbutton and Simon Touchscreen, a more advanced device capable of monitoring up to 40 devices around the home. The available sensors come in all varieties, including break sensors, smoke sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, and motion detectors. Cameras and other home automation features are also available.

Protect America offers both landline and wireless connectivity for monitoring. In some areas where cellular service is not up to snuff, landline connectivity (which is the cheapest option, at $19.99 a month) is probably the best way to go to ensure the ideal monitoring situation. The DIY installation process is fairly simple, though professional assistance is available over the phone.

When it comes to pricing and contracts, Protect America is less than ideal. While the three plans (Copper, Silver, and Platinum) are reasonably priced for what they deliver, the mandatory three-year contract and draconian policy might scare many away. Additional fees like $10 for fire monitoring and $10 for video monitoring are also not common for competing home security providers.

To sum up, if the long-term contract doesn’t scare you away, Protect America provides a reasonably priced service with flexible options.

Rating: 3.8


✓   Wireless equipment

✓   Lifetime equipment warranty

✓   Simple installation and configuration

✓   Home automation option

✓   Responsive sensors

✓   Low front-end costs

✓   Indoor video cameras

✓   Environmental monitoring


   Pricey accessories

   Lack of outdoor cameras

   Three-year lock-in contract

   Stiff penalties for cancellation

   High price for cellular monitoring

   Low-end plan does not allow for interactive features

   No equipment purchase

10. Nest Secure

While Nest Secure isn’t ideal for every everyone, it’s a good choice for customers living in a small home. For the relatively high price of $499, customers get a streamlined--yet effective security system adequate for a modest house with two entries. In contrast to other home security options, Nest Secure is 100% wireless and designed for self-monitoring, although Nest has partnered with Moni for a professional monitoring option.

The Nest Secure starter kit is comprised of one Nest Guard hub, two Nest Detect door.window sensors and two Nest tags adequate for a two-entry home. While, additional equipment is available for purchase, add-ons can get pretty expensive. Perhaps the best feature of the Nest equipment is the Nest Guard, a user friendly control panel that you use to arm and disarm your system and comes compatible with Google Assistant (Google is Nest’s parent company). Also unique is the Nest Tag, a handy little key chain that allows you to arm and disarm your system from anywhere without pulling out your phone.

Let’s talk about pricing: the starter pack will run you $499 and homeowners can buy Nest Cams for $99-199 and additional Nest Detect sensors go for $59 a pop. After the initial costs, Nest Secure is quite cheap, since it’s designed for self-monitoring. $10 dollars a month will buy you cellular backup via T-Mobile to send alerts if the WiFi goes kaput, and those who insist on professional monitoring can get it for $19 (three-year agreement) or $29 (pay-as-you-go) a month through Nest’s partnership with Moni.

However, Nest Secure does have its drawbacks: many BBB reviewers have issues with poor tech support and a lack of information on warranties. Furthermore, there is occasionally up to an hour delay in receiving alerts on your phone from the Nest Guard, a concerning issue. All in all, Nest Secure does provide a solid package for customers who prefer a self-monitoring system.

Rating: 3.7


   Choice of DIY or professional installation

   User-friendly Nest app

   Self-monitoring and professional monitoring options

   Cell and battery backups

   Unique features

   Multiple entry options


✗   Poor tech support and customer service

✗   Expensive initial costs

✗   Long lag for alerts when using Nest app for self-monitoring

✗   Nest Aware is difficult to use and configure

✗   Be warned; parent company Google potentially records customer data for advertising purposes

Well, that’s the list. It’s important to note that while some systems have clear advantages over others, choosing the best home security system ultimately depends on your individual needs and circumstances. For homeowners/renters on a budget, the systems offered by Scout and SimpliSafe with no-contract options, a simple array of equipment, and DIY installation are attractive choices, while those with a little money in the bank and no plans to move any time soon may opt for the more expansive systems and long-term commitments offered by Vivint and ADT. Furthermore, if you prefer to pick and choose your own equipment, Link Interactive is the best option.

All in all, choosing a home security system is an important decision that can have impactful consequences. We urge you to seriously weigh the pros and cons of each option before pulling the trigger on a security solution for your household.

Infographic: Winter Driving Safety

Infographic: Winter Driving Safety

Few are off the hook when it comes to dangerous winter driving conditions: according to the Federal Highway Administration, 70% of the United States’ roads are in areas that receive 5 or more inches of snowfall a year. What’s more, during the coldest months, well over 100,000 people are injured annually in crashes on icy or snowy roads. Follow these tips (and feel free to share the infographic below) to keep you, your family, and your car safe.

Ready your vehicle for winter weather​

  • Get a tune up. Make sure everything in your vehicle is in working condition: ignition, battery, transmission brakes, spark plugs, filters, fan belts, etc.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Because of low temperatures and icy roads, you run a heightened risk of flats. Adequate tire pressure will help prevent them.
  • Top up your fluids. Your vehicle should always be flush with oil, antifreeze, and especially, windshield wiper fluid.
  • Use the right tires. If you live in a hilly region where road conditions are unpredictable, installing winter tires with added traction may be necessary.

Make sure to store the essentials

  • Things to keep you warm. Keep blankets, boots, and cold weather clothes in your trunk in case of a breakdown.
  • Flashlights and flares. Use these tools to alert other motorists of your presence in case of an emergency. Matches and extra batteries for the flashlights are a good idea, too.
  • A fully-inflated spare tire, tripod jack and wrench. These should always be in your car if you get a flat, but in winter the need is especially immediate.
  • Tools to keep the snow at bay. Don’t leave home without your ice scraper and snow brush. You really won’t want to have to use your hands.

Know how to drive in snowy conditions

  • Maintain an increased stopping distance. With the added risk of slides and spinouts, stay farther away from other vehicles than you would during other seasons: around 8 seconds between your car and others.
  • Handle hills correctly. Don’t flood the gas at the crest of a hill, let your inertia bring you to the top. Never stop mid-way up a hill.
  • Don’t brake too quickly or forcefully. This will cause you to lose traction and cause steering wheel lockup.
  • Accelerate slowly. Hitting the gas when the road is slippery will cause you to skid and lose control. Ease into every acceleration.

Know how to handle a snow drift or breaking down

  • Don’t run the engine. Tempting to keep warm in frigid weather, but if your exhaust pipe is clogged, you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t try to push your car out of the snow. This could lead to overexertion or worse, the car might drift in your direction.
  • Stay in your car. The nearest gas station may not seem far, but if weather conditions shift, just ten minutes outdoors could lead to exposure. Call for help, ignite a flare, or tie a bright colored cloth on your antenna to indicate you are in need of help.

winter driving safety infographic

Nearly a quarter of women have turned in Uber drivers for uncomfortable behavior

Nearly a quarter of women have turned in Uber drivers for uncomfortable behavior

As children, it was drilled into our heads to never get into a car with a stranger. Now, it's something we do with little hesitation. We rarely think twice when using an app for a complete stranger to give us a ride to the airport or a ride home after a fun night out.

With headlines like, “103 Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse” and “Young woman claims she was sexually assaulted by Lyft driver in Toledo,” one can see why ride-hailing apps and women's safety are often scrutinized.

Hailing an Uber or Lyft is like playing a game of ride-hailing Russian roulette. Instead of a say in who pulls up, one gets is the driver's first name, a small picture, their rating, the make of the car, and where they're located. And while the driver's small oval photo may not seem like something that would make one feel safer, for nearly half of women, it does.

So what else does it take for women to feel safe getting into an Uber or a Lyft?

To find out, we surveyed women across the country about those ride-hailing companies. We wanted to know about women's experiences - good and bad - while taking a ride in someone else's car. We also asked if safety was a factor in their decision to use Uber or Lyft and if they took any precautions.

The most overwhelming response out of all of the questions came down to one key factor, the driver's gender.

Women riders want women drivers

Recent reports show Uber has double the market share compared to Lyft, so it wasn't surprising when 82 percent of the women surveyed said they use Uber more than its main competitor.

79 percent said safety is a factor in deciding between the two. But when it comes to the person behind the wheel, women riders want women drivers.

Nearly 45 percent prefer female drivers. Only nine percent want male drivers and 46 percent have no preference. 

uber lyft womens safety

Another reason could be female drivers are far less likely to engage in risky driving behavior, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Women report harassment during rides

One can understand why women prefer female drivers when looking at the data of what they're facing when they get into the car.

23 percent of women surveyed said they've had to report an uncomfortable encounter with a driver to Uber while 15 percent of women said the same thing about Lyft.

Situations sometimes escalated. Eight percent said they had to get the police involved over an Uber driver's behavior. A similar statistic for Lyft is just under eight percent.

What women are experiencing during rides

We broke the data down even further, looking at what women are experiencing inside an Uber or Lyft. They reported everything from getting hit on to the driver contacting them after the ride.

Nearly 13 percent of female Uber riders said they were made to feel uncomfortable, nearly 10 percent were hit on, and five percent said the driver called or texted them after the ride.

A small percentage of women said they were assaulted or the driver attempted to assault them.

Lyft had smaller percentages but is used less. Seven percent of women felt uncomfortable during a ride, six percent felt unsafe, and just under three percent report being assaulted or nearly assaulted.

When asked about safety precautions, women told us the tactics they use. Some said they always tell a friend or family member they're taking an Uber or Lyft. Others only take rides if someone is joining them. Another precaution was scrutinizing the driver's profile and reviews. One woman carries a gun.

uber lyft safety

Despite danger, women still prefer ride-hailing apps

Despite the numbers, women still trust ride-hailing apps. Our data shows they still consider Uber and Lyft the safest form of transportation compared to taxis, professional car services, and public transportation.

More than 75 percent said they haven't used Uber any less due to safety. Nearly 67 percent for Lyft.

What's next for the ride-hailing industry

Women's preference for female drivers is something both Uber and Lyft need to take into consideration. Neither Uber or Lyft have an option to request a driver based on gender. Uber has no plan to make it available although the company is on a crusade to recruit more female drivers.

Uber is facing its fair share of legal wrangling over the danger women face while using their service. A class action lawsuit was filed in California claiming the company needs to do more to screen drivers and protect female passengers.

Shortly after that, Uber announced it made a number of safety changes, including the ability to designate up to five contacts riders can share trip details within the app. It also made changes to its background checks, doing periodic reruns on drivers, not just in cities that require it.

Lyft points out it has an extensive background check process, a one-million dollar liability insurance protection plan and a 24-hour critical response line customers can call and report any issues.

While Uber and Lyft are opting out of allowing customers to choose their driver, some companies are catching on. Girl only ride-hailing businesses are slowly starting to pop up around the world.

Carriage For Her is based in Malaysia, Sheba operates in Australia and Safr just launched in Boston, with plans to expand to other major U.S. cities.


500 women were surveyed across the United States for this report through online polling company Pollfish on October 23, 2018. Less than one percent said they never used Uber and 28 percent reported they never used Lyft. Of those who did use the apps, a majority reported they used them sporadically. is not affiliated with any of the ride-hailing companies mentioned in this report.

Beginner’s Guide to Home Automation


Smart Homes for Beginners

Smart homes are a really neat idea, but is automating your home worth the time and money? These days, automating your home is easier than ever -- and if you have a little extra time and surplus income -- then the answer is yes.

Long forecasted to be the wave of the future, advancements in wireless technology and the availability of affordable, reliable smart assistants have rendered setting up a smart home practical for everyone--not just the very rich.

What’s more, you can do it yourself with the right gadgets and a little direction.

Advantages of a smart home

A smart home isn’t just about impressing your neighbors and houseguests. They offer some very distinct benefits.


One of the biggest positives of a smart home is how it makes your life easier. Annoying little tasks that you’d once have to perform on your own, like shutting the blinds, setting the thermostat, or even turning off the lights can be automated, leaving you free to focus on important matters.

Cut down on bills

Utility bills can seem exorbitant, especially in the cold winter months when the days are short and the temperatures frigid, or in the peak of summer when you have to blast your A/C to the max just to feel comfortable. Devices like smart light bulbs and thermostats are designed to save energy, and as a result--money--on your electric and heating bills.


Smart assistants like the Amazon Alexa devices allow you to configure them exactly to your purposes, setting reminders for certain events, turning off lights at your standard bed time and watering your garden when it needs watering.

Enhance security

Heightened home security is another bonus of an automated home. Motion sensors and security cameras integrated with your central smart hub make feeling safe cheaper and easier than before.


Say goodbye to that nagging feeling you have every time you leave your house that you forgot something --locking the doors, turning off the lights, etc. Setting up a smart home means that all of that is taken care of for you, allowing you to breathe easier when you step out.

Choosing a smart assistant

A smart assistant is essential to a smart home, as many of the additional features and components are run through them. Fortunately, there are many available on the market these days to satisfy a range of preferences and price points.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is the flagship device running the Amazon Alexa platform. With its advertised 15,000+ skills and affordable $79.99 price tag, it’s also one of the best selling and most versatile smart assistants available. Those looking for an excellent central device to build their smart home around need look no further.

Amazon Echo Plus

At $149.99, the Echo Plus does all the great things an Echo can do, but with the added bonus of a built-in Zigbee smart hub. Zigbee allows you to integrate additional smart-home devices, such as smart locks or dimmable bulbs and you won’t have to hook up an additional smart home hub to do it. A great buy for more ambitious smart home aspirants.

Amazon Echo Dot

While the Echo rests in the living room, or de facto center of the home, one or more hockey puck-shaped Echo dots are great additions for placement in bedrooms, the kitchen and other far flung reaches of the home so you don’t have to yell at the top of your lungs. At $39.99, it’s cheap and shares most of the great features of other Amazon Alexa devices.

Amazon Echo Show

A flashy new product running the Amazon Alexa platform, the Amazon Echo Show adds a touch screen, providing visuals to go along with Alexa’s speech as well as the ability to make video calls. Not exactly cheap at 150 bucks, the Echo Show is nevertheless the next logical step in smart assistant technology and highlights the ingenuity of Amazon’s design team.

Google Home

For Google purists, or just those weary of Alexa’s voice, the tech and search engine powerhouse offers its competing smart assistant, the $99 Google Home. Many reviews state that the Home is more personable when you speak to it, with a “follow up” mode that doesn’t require you to say “hey, Google” every single sentence you direct at it. It also intuits what you may say next and remembers personal information that you tell it, like the name of your favorite animal.

The drawback is that it is not compatible with nearly as many smart devices as Amazon products, although it is quickly catching up.

Apple Homepod

Apple’s recently released smart speaker contender, the Homepod offers great sound quality for all types of music, Siri, and terrific integration with all of your iOS devices. Yet, its lacking in compatibility with third-party smart home devices relative to its competitors, and not quite able to justify its $349 price tag.

Third-party smart hubs

Some smart assistants, like the Amazon Echo, need a Zigbee compatible hub (the Echo Plus already works with Zigbee devices) to connect it to certain smart home devices. The Samsung Smartthings and the Wink 2 are both ZigBee compatible ( which is sort of a wi-fi/bluetooth alternative that is ideal for low power devices such as lights and coffee machines and thus important for smart homes), making them worthy additions to your smart home setup.

Where to place your smart assistant

Perhaps this is obvious, but it’s important to state that a smart assistant should sit in a central location where you and your family, or housemates, spend the most time, and where it can hear you and you can hear it back. Don’t put it in a neglected corner somewhere.

Echo Dots actually work best when placed on the ceiling, where it will catch voice commands much more easily. You can do at home using a non-grounded outlet coupled with a petite adapter adequate to power the Dot.

Building a smart home room-by-room

Everything in its right place: each area of your house necessitates its own smart devices. Let’s go from room-to-room and discuss what belongs where, and how you can implement everything.

How to create a smart home exterior

DIY smart home exterior

Monitor smart security cameras through your phone

Security systems used to be very expensive, but smart technology puts them in reach of anyone. The Echo Show allows your smart assistant to double as a monitoring screen for security cameras. Two great ones are the Nest Cam Outdoor, and the Logitech Logi Circle (designed for indoor use). Both are small, hardy, and easy to install and integrate with Alexa, which you can do on your phone with the iOS or Android Alexa app.

Once they are installed, just ask Alexa to bring up the video feed (provided you have an Echo Show) rendering you a silent witness to whatever is going on in the camera’s realm.

The Logi Circle comes with 24-hour backup, will the Nest Cam Outdoor requires the Nest Aware service, starting at $100 a year, to backup footage.

Install a smart doorbell with face recognition

We are really in the future, now. When rung, smart doorbells activate a camera to show you who’s at the door on your Amazon Echo Show or Fire TV. The Nest Hello even offers face recognition, so that Alexa can announce who has come calling without the need for you to go look at a screen.

Another great option is the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which was designed to work seamlessly with Alexa products.

These devices use bluetooth or wifi to send a video to your smart assistant or phone whenever the button is pushed. Most of them are easy as heck to install and compatible with Amazon Echo products and Google Home. Still, you better check to make sure if the smart doorbell you wish to purchase works with your smart assistant.

Open your door with your phone

Never worry about forgetting your keys at the office again. Smart locks serve to guarantee that you deadbolt locks and unlocks every time you enter and exact the house. They allow you to open your door using a mobile app on your smartphone, or unlock the door remotely simply by asking Alexa, or Google. If you don’t always want to use your phone to open and close your door, most also come with a touchpad which you can open with a PIN, and a traditional keyhole.

Installing them is easy: most don’t necessitate that you replace the original deadbolt on the door and usually just require a screwdriver.

The August Smart Lock, compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and most other smart hubs, is one of the best on the market.

Smart motion sensors tell your home when people come and go

Smart motion sensors do more than you can imagine, and are simple to install and coordinate with your smart assistant. They can detect any movement outside your home in the area that they are installed, switching on a camera, and sending a signal to your Alexa which alerts you to the disturbance. They also just trigger lights to go on when you enter a room, and to go off shortly after you leave it.

A cooler aspect is that smart motion sensors like the Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor can send a signal to your smart thermostat (if you have one hooked up) to switch on the A/C or heater when people enter the room.

How to create a smart living room

DIY smart home living room

Forget about switches, install smart lights

No need to clap: today’s smart bulbs work with a smart motion sensor (a popular tandem is the Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor along with Philips Hue Smart Bulbs) allow you to control your lights in ways you never imagined. You can set them to turn on and off at designated times, even a week in advance, while the motion sensor detects when people move from room to room.

The Philips Hue smart light system is compatible with Alexa, and you can ask her to dim the lights, change the color, whatever you wish.

They are also easy to install and compatible with most smart hubs.

Cut costs with a smart thermostat

A must for any up-to-snuff smart home, smart thermostats self-regulate and include proximity sensors that adjust temperatures when people are nearby. They are a great way to save on heating costs without resorting to wearing extra layers in the home.

Not only are most compatible with smart hubs, some, like the Ecobee4, actually include a built-in Alexa speaker, rendering it a sort of thermostat and wall-mounted Echo Dot in one.

Voice control your TV with a smart sound bar

For people that wish to avoid the hassle of setting up a complicated sound system for use with their TV, sound bars are a great alternative: cheap and offering decent sound.

Now, they are smart. The Sonos Beam allows you to control what’s on your TV with it’s built-in Alexa, and you don’t need a smart TV to do it. It will also open up apps like Spotify and Audible at your command.

Smarten up old electronics and lamps with mini plugs

Setting up a smart home doesn’t mean that you have to toss all of your old “dumb” electronics and lamps. A cheap $20 dollar mini Smart Socket is a cheap alternative to more expensive smart bulbs and other higher-end smart devices.

It works with Alexa or Google Home to switch on-and-off any plugged-in device via a downloadable app, connection to the same wifi network as a your main smart assistant, and a voice command.

Just plug that antique lamp into the smart socket and it, too, becomes “smart”.

Intelligent smoke alarms can discern between threats

The Onelink Safe & Sound smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector joins the ranks of ordinary household devices upgraded with a built-in Alexa (or Google Assistant) speaker.

Instead of the blanket shrill beep sound for any emergency, the Onelink Safe & Sound gives different alerts based on different hazards, and unlike dumb smoke alarms you can just tell Alexa to shut it off once you get the message.

How to create a smart kitchen

DIY smart home kitchen

Cook your food without setting anything

Smart ovens, like the June Intelligent Oven, that sits on your countertop, are scarily cool. The June has a built-in camera that can tell what foods you put inside of it and cook them the proper way. Still, at over $1400, you may have to stick to regular old food cooking machines for the time being.

Fill your cabinets with smart appliances

Meat thermometers, slow cookers, trash bins, you name it: everything in the kitchen is getting smart these days.

Use Amazon Dash to order specific items with a slap

One kitchen-related smart convenience that does make absolute sense is the Amazon Dash. You can slap these little $5 buttons on the wall, connect them to your wifi and slap it whenever you need to and it automatically orders whatever product its designated to from your Amazon account. 

How to create a smart bedroom

DIY smart home bedroom

Track the quality of your sleep

Smart sleep trackers track the quality of your sleep based on your movement, breathing rate, REM sleep and heart rate through the night. Some you wear on your wrist, while others attach to your bed.

Sleep trackers are made for fitness buffs in mind, but regular people can wear them, too. They will give you advice on how to adjust your sleep and are compatible with iOS and/or Android devices.

Use a smart radio clock alarm to wake up gently

Traditional alarm clocks can be pretty annoying, but the new generation can actually make you feel good about getting out of bed. Smart radio clock alarm is a pretty awesome toy, innovating new ways to get you out of bed in the morning, and require very little effort to install.

The Philips Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation does exactly what its name describes: with a combination of light and sunrise-y sounds that begin 20-40 minutes before your wakeup time, the intensity gradually increases with music or natural sounds, rising you up out of bed, gently.

If you don’t have the money for a fancy clock radio alarm, your Echo or Echo Dot also has a programmable alarm clock function that you can set to music of your choice. Just tell her, “Alexa, wake me up at [time} with music.”

Install smart window blinds and never touch them again

It seems like it’s easier to damage blinds than anything else in the house. Worry no longer with the Alexa/Google Assistant compatible MySmartBlinds Automation kit. They can be timed to close and open at sunset and sunrise, or by your command at any time, and even include the option of a rechargeable solar panel.

How to create a smart backyard and garage

DIY smart home garage

Water your garden from your bedroom

Timed sprinklers are nothing new, but Rachio’s actually adjust their schedule and intensity to account for local weather patterns. They are compatible with smart assistants so you can quietly speak, “Alexa, instruct Rachio to water the yard,” and enjoy the soft symphony of falling water from your bedroom window.

Open your garage door from anywhere

Tired of pressing a button to open your garage, like a chump?

Well, with the current generation of smart garage door openers--which are mostly smart assistant-compatible and can be controlled remotely with your smartphone--you no longer have to.

They won’t break the bank, either, top models like the Chamberlain MyQ only go for $80, plus a $10 annual subscription fee to link your MyQ account to Google Assistant.

Control your pool with your phone

Most modern pool systems like the Easy Touch Control System by Pentair allow you to regulate your pool temperature and other properties with your smartphone. As a bonus, the aforementioned system is totally compatible with Alexa. Just enable a skill on the Amazon Alexa app.

Smart devices for kids

Always know where your kids are with a GPS tracker

It may seem cruel to tag your child with a tracking device, but gadgets like the AmbyGear Smartwatch, give you peace of mind in knowing where your kids are at all times in a stylish package that they will love. It also has fun apps like a reward system where kids get points for doing household chores, as well as learning games and activities.

Kids allergic to pet hair? Get them a robot dog

Just because your child or children are allergic to fur doesn’t mean that they have to be deprived of a loving companion. CHiP is a cybernetic canine that is as intelligent as they come. Like a real dog, CHiP plays fetch, responds to voice calls, and even wakes your kid up in the morning with a loving bark. Use the accompanying bluetooth wristband to give your digital pup positive feedback and treats.

Turn your child’s bedroom ceiling into a movie screen

The Cinemood is a lightweight mini projector that your kids can take into bed. It comes preloaded with select cartoons and movies, as well as the ability to play media from cloud storage. You don’t have to worry about them watching past their bedtimes since you can turn it off from anywhere in the house through a mobile app.

Smart devices for seniors and differently-abled

Never miss a dose with a smart pillbox

Ordinary pillboxs just sit there, never letting you know whether you or your loved one took their medication or not. If you are advanced in age or suffer from a serious medical condition, missing your medication might mean the difference between life and death.

Consider placing a bluetooth-compatible smart pillbox in your bathroom or bedroom to remedy the issue. This one from Tricella that has an alarm to remind you to take your meds and even sends an alert to family members phones if a dose is missed.

Get help quick with an emergency call button

It may be difficult for some to accept, but investing in an emergency call button that can be plugged into the wall, or worn like a beeper or around the neck can distinguish between falls and normal movement. Such a device can be a lifesaver for an elderly or physically disabled family member. Set them to call 911 and alert your loved ones to a fall or injury.

Use smart devices to monitor your health on the spot

A number of smart devices can make life easier if you or your elderly family member suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure, or any condition that requires frequent monitoring of health conditions. They can send timed updates to the family or the doctor on a regular basis, and emergency alerts if vital readings hit cautionary levels.

Guide to Cyberbullying: Awareness and Prevention

cyberbullying awareness guide

Cyberbullying awareness and prevention

What is cyberbullying and why is it so harmful?

By allowing us to share our stories and communicate with friends, family, and strangers all across the world, the internet has changed forever. It would be impossible for many of us to regress to a pre-wired-in age. Yet, the shift towards a social media-centered existence hasn’t been without its downsides, and the increasing prevalence of cyberbullying is one of the most alarming.

Cyberbullying is bullying -- period -- and we must work together to minimize its negative impact on our society.

Defined by as, “the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages, usually anonymously”, cyberbullying comes in many forms. It affects adolescents the hardest, but also all age groups.

The effects of cyberbullying can be dire, leading to ostracization and mental trauma. In this guide, we’ll discuss the various forms of cyberbullying, how to identify and prevent it, and the laws and school policies against it.

Types of cyberbullying


The persistent bombardment of negative, hurtful, or threatening messages through text messages, or on a social media platform. Harassment attempts to wear down a victim with repeated threats and insults.

Occasionally this form of cyberbullying manifests itself in a group setting with one member of a chat group becoming the target of hurtful messages, or through the victim’s private messages being shared in a group setting.

Example of harassment cyberbullying (source: wikimedia commons)


An especially traumatic form of cyberbullying that often occurs after a break-up, or rejection of unwanted advances. It typically involves an assault of texts or direct messages through social media with pleas to get together, sexually explicit messages or taunts, or even threats of physical violence.

Sending repeat automated emails is one form of cyberstalking (source: wikimedia commons)


A different form of bullying that includes cutting someone out of a group, photo album, or social event. Exclusion intends to make the victim feel bad by leaving him or her out of a social circle that they were once part of.

Exclusion is usually coupled with harassment, or another form of cyberbullying. “In-group” members may also ridicule or make fun of the victim amongst themselves as added insult to the ostracized party.


Posting malicious and provocative comments in a message board or social media with the intent of inciting an extreme reaction from the victim, often in the form of taunts or insults regarding the victim’s personal opinion or beliefs. Trolling is often done anonymously, and the perpetrator may not have any relationship with the victim or even know them at all.

Impersonation aka “imping”

Posing as another person and sending messages to a friend in order to damage the relationship between them, or making public posts with embarrassing or unflattering statements. Impersonation can be particularly devastating if the cyberbully obtains the username and password of the victim’s Facebook, or Instagram account. The damage make take a long time to mend if hundreds of classmates catch sight of the material online.


The posting of mean-spirited gossip and rumors with the intent of harming the victim’s reputation or relationships. Whether the rumors or statements spread are true or not often does not matter, and they can achieve the same effect. Once a group is exposed to a particularly sordid or shocking rumor, it can have a snowball effect wherein the victim is unable to shed the stigma attached to it.


Sharing personal messages with revealing information, or photos in a public forum or within a larger social group. Outing is frequently practiced in the aftermath of a nasty breakup and may include the public posting of revealing photos intended only for the eyes of a former romantic partner.

Outing can be particularly devastating for an adolescent as it may involve the public reveal of their sexual orientation before they are ready to go public with the information. Cases of outing have resulted in suicides by the victims.

Cyberbullying on social media


Despite recently being overtaken by Instagram as the most frequently used network for cyberbullying, Facebook nonetheless remains a hot zone for certain types of harmful online interaction.

As with other social media networks, it is easier for kids to say cruel things about people on Facebook that they’d never say in person. Cyberbullying on Facebook often happens in a “pile-on” situation, where one user will leave a negative comment about another user’s post, which encourages others to follow suit. The gang mentality towards online bullying can have a stronger impact on a child than direct 1-on-1 text harassment, leading to feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Another alarming aspect of cyberbullying on Facebook is that the 13-year old-age limit for Facebook is rarely enforced, meaning vulnerable tweens and young children often create profiles and use the network, exposing themselves to the threat of cyberbullying and other online dangers.

cyberbullying on facebook

15-year-old Tom Mullaney took his own life after an altercation with a younger boy at school extended to heated textual sparring on Facebook.

In some cases, cyberbullying on Facebook has lead to adolescents taking their own life. This is what happened with Birmingham teenager, Thomas Mullaney. The 15-year old, described by his family as a friendly boy who enjoyed sports, got into an argument with another boy a grade below him at school. The fight got physical, and both boys were suspended from school while the administration conducted an investigation. That evening, the argument between Thomas, the other boy and his friends shifted to Facebook. The dispute began with direct messages, but shifted over to Thomas’s main wall. The younger boy and his friends teamed up, posting a barrage of insults and physical threats towards Thomas. At some point, the taunts grew too much for Thomas to bear. He went back into the family shed and hung himself by a telephone cord. This alarming incident illustrates the profoundly damaging effect that the “pile on” strategy of cyberbullying common on Facebook can have on an emotionally wounded teenager.


As more and more teens have made Instagram their social network of choice, it has become the most common platform for youths to experience cyberbullying. The image-oriented nature of Instagram makes the network rife with opportunity for bullies to make cruel and hateful comments about the appearance of others.

In addition to posting cruel comments, bullies will also post unflattering or doctored pictures of others on their own account, inviting their followers to mock the victim. These posts can often snowball, getting spread around to an audience much wider than originally intended.

cyberbullying on instagram

The Instagram user @stlukeidiots repeatedly targeted young girls from sixth graders from a Catholic middle school in New York. The victims suffered severe emotional distress and even thoughts of suicide. Law enforcement were called in to investigate the incidents but could not identify the culprit. 

In an alarming example of the potential dangers vulnerable pre-teens face on Instagram, an anonymous user, @StLukeIdiots, went on a cyberbullying spree one weekend in May 2014. The user assaulted the Instagram accounts of 11 middle school girls enrolled at St. Luke School in Queens,NY posting mean spirited and hurtful comments under their pictures. @StLukeIdiots drew more than 130 follows before the account was deactivated. The victims were devastated, with some professing the desire to die. Police investigated the situation but the culprit was never identified. This incident strongly illustrates that preteens do not belong on Instagram, where they are vulnerable to the attacks of predators and trolls.​


Because snapchat messages, or “snaps”, are automatically deleted soon after being viewed (although there is also the option to create “stories” which exist for up to 24 hours after creation), senders are often not as careful with the content of their messages as they would be with other platforms.

However, despite the fact that snaps quickly “self-destruct”, recipients of the messages are able to take screenshots of the messages and save them to their phone. This can lead to the dispersal of private, intimate content that the sender did not intend to be distributed, leading to embarrassing and upsetting situations.

Snaps are also a means of sending hurtful messages directly to another child, with the knowledge that it will most likely be deleted, leaving no evidence of abuse. Exclusion, where one friend is left out of a “Story” or a certain member of a social group is not sent a snap that others received, is also common on Snapchat.

In a horrifying incident caught on Snapchat, a teen in Ridgewood, NJ was brutally beaten by an assailant after coming to the defense of a girl--herself a cyberbullying victim--, fractured his skull in the incident. The bully then posted a photo of the bloodied boy lying on the ground to his Snapchat account. The victim’s aunt claims that the girl he defended was actively being harassed by a large group of students online after her pictures were shared around on social media networks. In the aftermath of the attack, the boy was then ridiculed on social media for coming to her defense. This incident demonstrates the role cyberbullying can play in tandem with face-to-face bullying and how it can exacerbate and magnify a terrible situation.


Youtube is another site where cyberbullying occurs in a alarming frequency. Due to the fact that Youtube users are often anonymous, they can post cruel, hateful comments on the videos of others without fear of reprisal. The “pile-on” situation that occurs on Facebook also happens on Youtube, with the difference being that users do not have to be friends with the poster to comment on the video, opening the door for for trolls and cyberbullies everywhere to engage in the taunting.


For years, Twitter has held reputation as a haven for trolling and cyberbullying, with many high profile cases making the news, such as when the daughter of beloved comedian Robin Williams was driven off the site following a torrent of abuse and mean-spirited taunts in the wake of her father’s death by suicide.

Cyberbullies on Twitter hide behind anonymous accounts, as on Youtube, freeing them from practicing the restraint they otherwise would if their identity were public. Attacking others for their lifestyles, ethnicities and political beliefs is commonplace. Cyberbullying on Twitter is not just a problem between students and their peers, but a global issue.

cyberbullying on twitter

Attacks on a person’s political views on Twitter

Texting and other forms

Cyberbullying can also happen through text and personal messages. Though the damaging comments may not be posted for others to see, the harassment can be equally damaging for teens.

Tips for parents on cyberbullying management and prevention

How to tell if your child or loved one is a cyberbullying victim

There’s a chance your child, friend or loved one is the victim of cyberbullying but too embarrassed to admit it. Here are some signs:

  • They avoid social situations or groups of friends that they once enjoyed, preferring to spend more time alone.
  • They act out, displaying angry or upsetting behavior in a manner unusual to them.
  • They suddenly spend less time on social media platforms that they once frequented.
  • New, unknown numbers or texts suddenly appear on their phone.

Comforting your child after an incident of cyberbullying

  • Approach the situation gently, allowing them to explain the situation to you at their own speed free of interrogation.
  • Let them know that online cruelty does not reflect their value as a person.
  • Inform them that the cyberbullying may not be personal, and that the bully may not understand the harm they are causing since it is being done from behind a screen.
  • Advise them that retaliation or responding to the bullying can only make the situation worse.
  • Tell them it’s not the end of the world, what seems like a crisis now will inevitably pass.


If the damage done by cyberbullying is severe, and the victim feels ostracized from their peers or afraid to go to school, he or she may benefit from professional counseling. Professional counselors, at school and otherwise, are trained to deal with cyberbullying and use specific techniques to manage the situation and help victims overcome their pain and self-esteem issues.

Tips on preventing cyberbullying from happening to your child

  • Educate your child on how to properly conduct his or herself on social media, i.e., don’t pose revealing photos or overly personal information.
  • Friend, or follow, your child on the social networking sites he or she uses. This way you can monitor their activity from afar.
  • Tell your child not to friend strangers, and to allow only trusted friends and family members to view their posts.
  • Don’t openly engage with your child publicly on social media, as this may encourage taunting and bullying. Don’t post potentially embarrassing photos or content, either.
  • Keep your computers and devices in the common areas of the home. Discourage them from using social media in private areas.
  • Report instances of cyberbullying to social networking sites where they take place (links located below).
  • If cyberbullying is a repeat issue, restrict their usage, or bar them from social media, altogether.

Cyberbullying laws and in school policy

Reporting cyberbullying to schools

Often a child will not be able to deal with an instance of cyberbullying alone, and the situation may require intervention by the school in order to put a stop to the behavior.

You may believe that confronting the parents of the bully is a good solution, but they might react unpredictably, denying the charge, or becoming aggressive. Research finds that the bullies are often physically and verbally abused by their parents, and they may not be the best individuals to confront about a cyberbullying situation.

Approaching the school in order to deal with an incident of cyberbullying is the best choice. Even before going to the police, this is the best course of action, as the school will have the contacts of every student, as well as a law enforcement liaison on campus at all times who will best know how to proceed with the situation. If bringing in the cops is necessary, then they will likely do so.

To prepare:

  • Take screenshots of the cyberbullying activity for evidence to support your case. If the bully uses their Facebook or Instagram account to bully your child, rather than an anonymous account, the evidence will be undeniable.
  • Gather any texts, emails or other messages from the bully.
  • Once evidence of the incident is gathered, make a call to the principal’s office to set up an appointment to discuss the situation

Schools are mandated by state law in every state, to have an official anti-bullying policy, with Montana being the last to do so in 2015. Many states have laws that require schools to deal with off-campus behavior as well. Even if cyberbullying incidents take place off school grounds and after the last bell, they may still be forced to take action. Schools are required to keep classrooms a safe place conducive to learning, and off-campus cyberbullying can negatively impact this environment.

Laws against cyberbullying

As yet, there are no federal laws against cyberbullying, however most states have stepped up and passed their own laws against the behavior. State laws against bullying and cyberbullying vary from state to state. An overwhelming majority of states include criminal sanctions for cyberbullying.

The punishments for cyberbullying vary: in California, using an “electronic communication device” to cause someone to fear for their life is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1000 or a year in jail. While in states such as Missouri, a cyberbullying offender may face a misdemeanor harassment charge.

Educate yourself on your own state’s cyberbullying laws in order to be better prepared and aware of your options if and when a situation arises.

This is a comprehensive guide on recent laws passed in all 50 states in order to deal with the consequences of cyberbullying and punish the offenders. Generally, severe bullying is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, but in some states, as in the case of South Dakota in 2009, legislators failed to pass a comprehensive law against bullying. In states where this is the case, cases against bullies can be filed under existing harassment laws.​

In an unprecedented case, Michelle Carter, a 17-year-old from Massachusetts, was sentenced with involuntary manslaughter for sending texts encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to commit suicide. Roy, suffered from depression, and Carter repeatedly encouraged him to follow through with his threats to kill himself. In his final successful attempt, Roy filled his truck with carbon monoxide. He told Carter he was scared, and she encouraged him to “get back in”, which he did, and died of inhaling the fumes. The case may prompt Massachusetts to pass a new law which makes encouraging suicide a criminal act.

Cyberbullying statistics

Cyberbullying Infographic

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Additional resources

​Anti-bullying resources

Stomp out Bullying - The leading non-profit organization dedicated to ending bullying for students everywhere.

Love Our Children USA: Kids and Teen Online Safety - Set of guidelines parents of teens and pre-teens should follwo before letting their children go online. - Government sponsored site dedicated to spreading anti-bullying awareness and prevention tips, with resources and directories for mental health centers.

Mental health resources - The federal government’s site of resources for those battling mental illness.

Get Help Now - A guide on how to act in a variety of bullying and cyberbullying situations.

Wellness Everyday: Cyberbullying - Excellent mental health resource on cyberbullying created by the Ventura County Mental Health Department​

Law and policy resources

Find Law - Cyberbullying Laws - Guide to laws against cyberbullying around the country

Reporting cyberbullying

The following are links to each social network’s page where you can report cyberbullying on the site:

Abuse and Spam on Instagram

Report abuse on Snapchat

Report abuse on Twitter

Report bullying on Facebook

Youtube's harassment and cyberbullying policy

Infographic: Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

Summer means we can all get excited about relaxing in the sun and engaging in some of our favorite outdoor activities. However, with the extra sunlight, high temperatures and humidity come added health concerns -- especially for at-risk groups like seniors.

The statistics bear this out: A CDC study found that adults aged 65 and over accounted for 36% of heat-related deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2010, while another study done by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that a mere 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature increases death rates in elderly people with a chronic health condition. When it comes to the health risks posed by summer heat, seniors are the most vulnerable.

With these facts in mind, it’s important for older adults to take extra care in how they conduct themselves outdoors under the summer sun. Family members and caregivers must take heed as well, as seniors may not feel the effects heat-related illness coming on before it’s too late. The best approach is to follow precautionary measures to mitigate the effects of harsh heat rather than wait for the body to tell you it’s time to go inside for a rest. That warning may not come: heat stroke can be sudden and unexpected.

Fortunately, there are simple tips to follow in order to avoid disaster and enjoy the summertime without worry. We want our elderly friends and relatives to live their lives to the fullest, and staying safe in the sun is the best way to make that happen.

infographic: senior summer safety

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Guide to Basic Gun Safety

basic gun safety

Gun safety is the responsibility of the owner, and no one else. It’s also not something that should be taken lightly, since the destructive potential of firearms is huge.

According to the CDC, 77 minors were killed by unintentional gun discharges in the U.S. in 2015. However, when the Associated Press and USA Today conducted an independent review of shootings-related deaths nationwide, the results were nearly double those of the CDC. AP found at least 141 deaths of minors attributed to accidental shootings in the same period. CDC officials acknowledge their statistics are lower because of how coroners classify fatalities on death certificates.

Accidental discharge-related deaths of minors are most common among 3-year-olds. Most accidents follow the same scenario – children pick up unsecured, loaded guns in their homes and shoot themselves.

Former director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Mark Rosenberg, says “it’s crazy” that the government isn’t researching more into how to prevent accidental discharge deaths because the bottom line is – 100% of them are preventable.

Following these gun safety rules is essential in preventing accidental firearm-related injury or death. Avoiding becoming a statistic begins with your conduct at home, at the range, or anywhere you carry your gun.

Basic gun safety tips

  • Treat every firearm as if it's loaded.
  • Always keep the weapon’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Give the owner’s manual a thorough read. Know how to use your gun, how to open and close its action safely, and how to remove ammunition from the gun, as well as its magazine. 
  • Don’t rely on safety mechanisms. Mechanical safety isn’t foolproof. Learn the intricacies of the mechanical safety on your gun.
  • Keep your firearms in good working order. Regular maintenance translates into a more reliable, safer firearm. When carried, guns develop rust even faster than when stored at home. So, clean your firearms regularly, even if they are never used.
  • Have your gun serviced by a gunsmith regularly. A qualified technician should do everything that goes beyond basic cleaning. Don’t be tempted to disassemble and reassemble a gun without proper knowledge and skills.​

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) suggests a S.A.F.E. strategy to gun safety:​


S – secure your firearms when not in use​

A – maintain awareness of people in your proximity and prevent unauthorized access to guns​

F – focus on your responsibility as a gun owner​

E – educate yourself and others about gun safety​

Safe gun storage 

Purchasing a gun means accepting the responsibility that comes along with it, and the principle way to prevent gun-related accidents is to ensure that firearms are always properly stored in the home.

See to it that guns are stored where they won’t be accessible to unauthorized persons: hiding a gun in a drawer, closet, or underneath a pillow does not make your house a safer place. Safe storage requires precautions and critical safeguards that create barriers to against unauthorized use and accidents.

How to safely store a gun

  • Store guns unloaded.
  • Good storage places include in locked cabinets, gun vaults, safes, and storage cases.
  • Stored guns must be inaccessible to children.
  • Lock ammunition in a separate location from your guns.
  • When removing firearms from storage, double-check to make sure they are not loaded.
  • Gun-locking devices render firearms inoperable and serve as an additional precaution against accidents.
  • Cable-style locks aren’t a substitute for safe storage. They are simply a way to discourage unauthorized access to guns by young children.​
  • Consider special lockable cases that can be quickly opened by authorized individuals.

Gun owners must commit to learning how to safely use their firearms, especially if they plan on using them for home security. The objective is to keep firearms somewhere where they are readily available to the owner, yet inaccessible to others. Keeping a gun to defend your family is meaningless if that same gun puts your family at risk. 

Children and gun safety

Several studies have found that gun accidents claim at least one child’s life every other day. Sadly, nearly all firearm accidents are preventable when gun owners take basic precautions.

If you have firearms in the home, you need to teach your kids about them. In many cases, children find firearms because they go looking for them out of curiosity or because one of them dared the other to find it.

Provided the firearms in your house are stored safely, make sure your kids:​

  • Never go snooping for guns in your home or at a friend’s home.
  • Never allow other children to go looking for guns in your home.
  • Know that if they find a gun, they are not to touch it or let others touch it, but they are to tell an adult about it immediately.
  • Never touch a firearm, even if it looks like a toy. They should always ask permission first.​

Sleepovers at a friend’s house

  • Whenever your kids are going to a sleepover at a friend’s house, ask the parents if they have a gun in the house.
  • If the answer is yes, ask how the firearms are stored, and where the ammunition is kept.
  • It doesn’t matter if it makes someone feel uncomfortable or offended: the safety of your child and other children comes first.

Carrying a gun safely

​Before carrying a gun, you should know:

  • Safety precautions
  • Federal, State, and Local laws
  • How to maintain situational awareness

A majority of negligent discharges occur when the person handling the gun is not paying attention and doesn’t maintain situational awareness. 

Practice safe handling and situational awareness

  • Practice carrying an unloaded gun first. Get used to its weight, and how it feels in your hand.
  • Develop a sense of protectiveness for the area of your body where the gun is stored. For example, when choosing a seat in a restaurant, sit with your gun side away from the person sitting by your side. When hugging someone, keep your arms low so that the other person puts theirs high and has no contact with the firearm.
  • Use a good holster and a rigid gun belt specifically designed for the gun. Use holsters made of Kydex or leather and fitted to the individual gun model. Holsters made of cloth and generic one-size-fits-all holsters don’t hold a gun as they should, and should be avoided at all possible costs.
  • Use belts made of leather or nylon. Regular belts are too flimsy to hold a gun throughout the day.
  • Consider using a retention holster with a locking mechanism to protect your gun from unauthorized access and theft.​
  • Small children tend to climb their parents, so a retention holster is a must. Be it while wrestling on the floor, or running across the yard, the holster needs to protect your gun from children – and vice versa – at all times.

Keeping a finger near the trigger, and not checking to see if the gun is loaded is a route to disaster.

Practice, practice, practice

  • Practice correct finger placement while drawing your gun – off the trigger. This is paramount to prevention of accidental discharge.
  • Keep the index finger of the shooting hand should be straight during correct gun drawing.
  • Minimize unnecessary handling when the weapon is in a ready state to avoid a negligent discharge. Definitely don’t show it off to your friends at a barbecue.​

Driving with a gun

​When driving with a gun, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Sit properly. Correct seating position improves your driving abilities and also makes it easier to draw your weapon, if needed.
  • Practice your seated draw.
  • Maintain situational awareness and control your emotions. An emotional response on the road can have devastating consequences if both drivers are armed. So, whenever facing danger or confrontation on the road, try to avoid it.
  • Defensive driving is more effective – and important – than defensive gun use.
  • There’s no reason to access the gun while out and about, except for self-defense. So, put it in your holster when leaving home, and don’t touch it again until you’re putting it back in the safe box at night.
  • Sometimes, when entering restricted areas, gun owners must remove their weapon and lock it in a secured container inside their vehicle. If this happens to you, do it without distraction. Then, upon returning to your vehicle, re-holster the gun safely.

Gun violence statistics

infographic: gun violence stats

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Useful resources

Firearm Safety videos from NSSF

Guns in the House

NSSF Ten Tips for Firearm Safety in Your Home

Firearms Responsibility in The Home

Safe Handling

Tips for Safely Carrying your Handgun – Concealed Nation

Concealed Carry Training Is Not The Same As Target Practice

Four Tips for Driving While Armed

Infographic: Home Safety Summer Tips

You’ve made it to summer. Now it’s time to kick back, enjoy the warm weather at BBQ’s and pool parties, and take that much needed vacation. Yet it’s important to remember that crime rates rise during the summer, as do traumatic injuries, so you should follow these tips to keep home safe and your family in health.

home summer safety infographic

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