Monitoring your childcare provider’s every move with a nanny cam might seem like a good idea — covertly checking in on your little one during the day can give you peace of mind about his well-being. But there are reasons this added measure of security may not be the best choice for your family. Before you install a camera, ask yourself these five questions to determine whether or not a nanny cam is right for you.
Why are you installing a nanny cam?
We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching and extremely hard-to-watch videos of children being abused by trusted babysitters or nannies. Even the thought of a caregiver hurting your child is enough for most parents to start searching for a stuffed animal large enough to conceal a camera. Before you do that, keep in mind that incidents of children being abused by a babysitter or nanny are rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of violent crimes against children under 18. However, if you currently employ a sitter or nanny you suspect is abusing or neglecting your child, now is not the time to install a nanny cam; now is the time to find a new caregiver.
For some parents, having a child in someone else’s care can cause anxiety for the whole family. If a nanny cam is going to help you feel more comfortable with your caregiving situation, it’s best to decide you want to install one before you hire a nanny.
Have you thoroughly screened your nanny?
A nanny cam is not a substitute for thoroughly vetting a potential nanny. While screening isn’t full-proof, it does provide a measure of security in your hiring process that will help you feel more confident in your choice of caregiver.
Learn how to effectively check references and run a thorough background check. You can also do an online search of your potential caregiver to see if there are any red flags in her social media profiles. And don’t discount your gut feeling about a sitter. Trust your instincts and look to hire someone you and your child connect with.
Are you familiar with laws about surveillance video?
It’s your house, so you should be able to install cameras wherever you want, right? Not so fast.
While installing a camera in your home to videotape your nanny or sitter is legal in the U.S., even if you do it without the sitter knowing or consenting to being filmed, several states prohibit the use of audio recording without consent. In addition, it is illegal to tape your nanny in the bathroom or other private areas, like her bedroom if she lives with your family. Check your state’s laws before you install a nanny cam.
Are you going to tell your caregiver about the nanny cam?
Some parents feel if a nanny cam is going to be effective, it needs to be kept secret, and if the nanny isn’t doing anything wrong, there’s no reason why she should mind being taped. That mindset often doesn’t line up with the nanny’s point of view.
There are caregivers who will refuse to work in a home with nanny cams, and not because they want to be able to hide their behavior from parents. They simply feel it means the parents do not trust them with their children. However, plenty of caregivers will happily work in a home that has a nanny cam, but most agree, they appreciate a heads up about it.
Ultimately, it’s your home and your child, so you need to make the decision that’s best for your family. But if you decide not to tell your nanny about the camera and she eventually discovers it, your nanny may feel violated and uncomfortable — feelings that could result in you losing a great caregiver.
What other measures can you take to ensure your child is well cared for?
A nanny cam is only one tool that can help you feel secure with your choice of caregiver. There are plenty of other ways to determine if your nanny is the right fit for your family:
Maintain an open line of communication with your caregiver. The best way to avoid sticky childcare situations is to have good communication. Set clear expectations and talk openly with your nanny if you have concerns.
Pay attention to how your caregiver approaches communication with you. If she seems secretive or consistently disagrees with your instructions on how to manage your child, it’s time to find a new caregiver.
Take note of how your child reacts to the nanny. While some separation anxiety is normal, if your child seems unhappy around or scared of the sitter, the caregiver may not be the right fit for your family.
Trust your instincts. Your gut is usually spot-on, so listen to that inner voice. It’s worth trusting your instincts about situation if something doesn’t feel right.