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Expert Shopper Electronics

Expert-recommended tech to help your child with their fear of the dark

Expertly reviewed by Jaime Vazquez
Alvina Wang/BestReviews

Quell fears with smart products

The world is an exciting place filled with unique experiences and important lessons. Still, children see the world differently and may have fears that seem irrational to adults. Nonetheless, taking these fears seriously and helping your child manage them is essential. 

Being afraid of the dark is one of the most common fears among children. Luckily, numerous devices can help your child feel more comfortable at night. We interviewed our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, to better understand which tech products are best for illuminating dark rooms.

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In this article: Kasa Smart Light Bulbs, Echo Dot Kid's Edition and The Clapper.

Everything you need to know about helping your child with their fear of the dark

What causes a fear of darkness?

Some studies suggest that a fear of darkness is associated with the inability to see what is around you. Since most children have active imaginations, this can lead to scary ideas about what is in the room. Although causes may vary, many psychologists agree that exposure therapy is a valid treatment. Still, it's best to leave these types of treatments to professionals.

For many children, being afraid of the dark is a normal part of their development. Giving them easy methods for turning the light on is an excellent way to help them feel comfortable in your home.

Smart bulbs

Most smart bulbs can be controlled with smartphone apps and some with voice commands. These devices offer a straightforward way for your kid to turn the light on when the switch isn't immediately accessible. 

"I would recommend a full-color spectrum bulb because kids can choose their brightness, hue and color," said Vazquez. "You can set their lowest light to a dark blue instead of lights out, and they can be a valuable parenting tool. You can set them to turn a specific color when it's time for bed or set them up to make different patterns, which can be super fun."

You'll often need a smart speaker to control these bulbs with a voice assistant. However, you can control smart bulbs with your smartphone if you don't have a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistant devices

You can pair these with other smart home devices to enable voice controls or routines. For example, you can pair your virtual assistant with a smart bulb to create a routine that gradually dims your child's lights around bedtime. Additionally, many virtual assistant devices can be used as nightlights. 

According to Vazquez, "I love the ones they make for kids because they have built-in safeguards, and you can set them up to not function past bedtime."

Smart plugs

Smart plugs are affordable devices that make it easier for you to turn lights on and off for your kids. Per Vazquez, it is best if smart plugs are controlled by parents instead of children. Still, these let you turn lamps on and off from anywhere in your home, making them an excellent choice for busy parents.

Other devices to help with your child's fear of the dark

  • Light-up stuffed animals: Although these aren't likely to illuminate the entire room, they can be an excellent source of comfort for your kids. Most light-up stuffed animals are battery-powered, so you won't have to worry about impacting your electric bill.
  • The Clapper: Although this may seem like a relic of the past, The Clapper is still available for purchase. This handy device lets your kids turn lamps on and off by clapping their hands. 
  • Motion sensors: These devices automate smart lights in your home, turning lights on when your child enters a dark room. Many motion sensors can be used outside for home security purposes.

Light-producing electronics our tech expert recommends

Kasa Smart Light Bulbs

These smart light bulbs are compatible with Alexa and Google Home. They have dimmable features, making them an ideal choice for building nighttime routines. They can be set to a wide range of colors. These bulbs let you monitor their energy usage throughout the day.

Sylvania Wi-Fi LED Smart Light Bulbs

These don't require a smart home hub. They have numerous color and brightness settings. They are compatible with Alexa and Google Home. These lights are backed by a two-year warranty. Many said they were impressed by how easy they are to set up.

Echo Dot Kid's Edition (5th Generation)

This easy-to-use smart speaker is compatible with most smart bulbs. The kid's version of this Amazon Echo device is available with a fun owl or dragon design. You can set up parental controls to limit usage throughout the day. It comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+.

Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen) Kids

This is compatible with most smart devices and includes a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+. The parental controls are easy to set up. Your child can use this to turn on lights, watch TV or listen to audiobooks.

Kasa Smart Plug Four-Pack

These compact smart plugs can be used with various appliances, such as lamps. According to Vazquez, "They are great for switched devices that turn on and off. A device with firmware shouldn't be plugged into a smart plug."

Ontel Stuffed Animal Night Light

There is a wide range of animals to choose from, including unicorns, puppies and sharks. These stuffed animal night lights project stars onto your child's ceiling in six colors. They are powered by AAA batteries.

The Clapper

This can be used to control two appliances; one can be turned on with two claps and the other with three. It has an away setting that turns lights on in response to any noise. It doesn't require a smart home hub or smartphone app.

Aqara Motion Sensor

This motion sensor is compatible with Alexa and Apple HomeKit. It can be used to control lights, switches, outlets and more. It is compact and easy to install. You can use it outside your home for added security.

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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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