Monitoring your child care provider’s every move with a nanny cam might seem like a good idea on the surface. After all, security cameras are more the norm than the exception these days, and it seems like everyone has a camera-enabled doorbell to prevent home burglaries. And having the ability to check in on your little one during the day offers many parents peace of mind about their child’s well-being.
But this added security measure comes with pros and cons, and might not be the best choice for every family. Before you install a camera, ask yourself these five questions to determine whether or not a nanny cam is right for you.
Questions To Ask Yourself About Nanny Cams
1. Why Are You Installing A Nanny Cam?
Before you install a nanny cam, it’s important to understand your why.
We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching and 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 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 only 4% of all crimes against young children (far lower than the percentage of child-related crimes committed by family members). And if you suspect that your sitter or nanny is abusing or neglecting your child, a direct approach is much more effective than installing a security camera. At the very least, you should have an in-person conversation with your child care provider about your concerns. If your worries continue, it’s time to search for a new caregiver.
We’re not writing off nanny cams completely, though. There are plenty of sound reasons why a parent might want to invest in one. Putting a child in a stranger’s care can cause anxiety, and children with unique needs might need more oversight than others. And we’ll admit it—sometimes we just miss our kids, and it’s fun to be able to check in on them throughout the day!
No matter what you decide, trust is the most important factor. Before installing a camera, you should already have an established level of trust with your nanny and your children, and have confidence that you can leave them alone together without your surveillance.
2. 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.
3. 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 most states, some prohibit private surveillance. Other states have laws banning the use of audio or video recording without consent. And it’s always illegal to tape your nanny in the bathroom or in other private areas, like a bedroom or hotel room if your nanny lives or travels with you.
Be sure to check your state’s laws and understand all of the specific requirements in your area before you install a nanny cam. And remember, consent and strong communication are always a good idea, no matter what your state’s laws are.
4. Are You Going To Tell Your Caregiver About the Nanny Cam?
Some parents feel that if a nanny cam is going to be effective, it needs to be kept secret. If the nanny isn’t doing anything wrong, there’s no reason why they should mind being taped, right? But 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 say they’d appreciate a heads up.
Ultimately, it’s your home, so you need to make the best decision for your family. But suppose you decide not to tell your nanny about the camera and they eventually discover it. In that case, your nanny may feel violated and uncomfortable—feelings that could result in losing a great caregiver.
5. Have You Taken Measures To Avoid Getting Hacked?
We’ve all heard horror stories about Alexa going rogue and playing strange music or speaking out of turn. Home technology hacking is a growing problem; security cameras can be susceptible to outside spies and other bad actors.
Nanny cams are no different. While it’s unlikely, any new video or audio technology you install in your home has the potential to be hacked. Before you buy, do your research to make sure you’re selecting a device with a high-security rating, and look for recommendations from other parents like you.
Once you buy, here are a few ideas to help your cameras stay secure:
- Require a password to access your WiFi network, and be sure to change it at least once a year.
- Change your password for the home security camera’s software from the default immediately, and change it every few months.
- Register your device with the manufacturer, so you’ll receive security updates anytime there’s cause for concern.
- Update the camera’s firmware as soon as there are updates available.
- Turn the nanny cam off when you’re not using it, and disconnect it from the Internet for a few minutes every week.
Choosing the Right Nanny Cam
If you do decide to move forward with purchasing a nanny cam, it’s important to find a tool that works best for your family. There are lots of options out there that meet different needs, so ask yourself what would work best for your family.
Think about if you’ll need features like:
- Night vision and 24/7 access
- Two-way communication so that you can talk to your children remotely
- Portable devices for travel
You’ll also want to consider whether a wired or WiFi-operated nanny cam is best for you. A wired home security camera is hardwired to a full-time power source, and is usually permanently or semi-permanently installed around your home. On the flip side, wireless nanny cams are often battery-operated and are activated by a sensor so that they preserve power when they don’t detect activity.
Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons:
Wired Nanny Cams
- Better audio and video quality
- More stable and reliable connection to power
- Can be used even if your WiFi goes down
- Less prone to hacking and breaches
- Wires have to run from a central hub to wherever you’d like your nanny cam installed
- More expensive
- Professional installation is often required
- Can’t be moved easily
Wireless Nanny Cams
- Easy to install and set up
- No electrical work necessary
- Multi-camera set-up is easier and more affordable
- Can be used even if your house loses power
- Less reliable connection
- Depends on WiFi strength
- More likely to be hacked
- Batteries need to be checked and replaced regularly
What Other Measures Can You Take To Ensure Your Child is Well-Cared For?
A nanny cam is just 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 they seem secretive or consistently disagree 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, they 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 the situation if something doesn’t feel right.