Nanny Cams and Child Monitoring

Florence Ann Romano standing on concrete bridge

Why I support the parent’s right to have a camera in their home and how it can actually protect everyone involved

Letting someone into your home to care for your children is an adjustment. And with frightening stories on the news about child care providers not meeting expectations (or worse), many parents are using nanny cams to get that additional piece of mind. While the nanny is there to protect, care for and love the children as an extension of the parent’s eyes, ears and heart, some nannies may feel that it’s an invasion of privacy to be recorded.

In my opinion, this is something that both nannies and parents should support. Why? Because nanny cams protect children. It’s as simple as that! Plus, nanny cams can actually protect nannies, too! Since this is such a hot topic, I wanted to give my readers a little more background into the debate. Read on to learn more about nanny cams and the legalities of using them.

What is a nanny cam?

Much like the name implies, a nanny cam––short for “nanny camera”––is an in-home surveillance camera that’s strategically-placed to keep an eye on a caregiver. Usually nanny cams are placed in areas of the house where parents can get a clear view of the nanny and child together. Again, these cameras are typically installed for two purposes: the child’s protection and the parents’ peace of mind.

Why should parents have a nanny cam in their home?

Because parents are letting a caregiver into their home and children’s lives, peace of mind is essential to parents! Simply put, you want to make sure your children are being cared for properly! Of course you wouldn’t intentionally bring someone untrustworthy into your home, and knowing the right questions to ask during an interview will help you find a nanny who shares the same values and parenting styles as you. However, having someone new around your children can be unnerving. A nanny cam can bring you peace of mind and make the transition easier.

Having a nanny cam allows you to check in on your children when you’re not there and monitor your nanny’s behavior. Is your nanny on their phone a lot? Do they seem to give more attention to one kid over the other? A nanny cam gives you the opportunity to align your nanny more closely with your values so they act as an extension of you!

Nanny cams protect nannies, too

The idea of being watched all day every day can be intimidating to nannies and they may even assume that the parents are just out to get them! However, it’s important to remember that the evidence can be in the nanny’s favor. A while back, there was a case where a child broke their arm. Of course, the parents immediately wondered if the injury was a result of abuse or negligence. However, it was caught on camera that the injury was a complete accident and the nanny was not at fault. If there wasn’t a camera there to confirm it, the nanny would likely have been fired and the parents may have pressed charges.

How to bring up a camera with your nanny

Because nannies may have privacy concerns and might not be comfortable with a camera in the house, it’s best to mention nanny cams during the interview process––it might be a non-negotiable for them. However, your nanny should have nothing to hide, so if they’re not open to being recorded, they’re not the right nanny for your family.

If you’re using a third-party online service to find your new nanny, add, “Must be OK with nanny cam” to your profile! Just like you want your nanny to have a degree in child psychology or be a non-smoker, insist that your nanny be open to having a camera in the home. Remember: you’re the parent, so you get to set the rules!

If you want to start using a camera when your nanny already works for you, bring it up as a conversation rather than a demand. Start out by saying, "I think this is something that would bring me peace of mind. It's not that I don't trust you, but it's very difficult for me to be away from the kids." Of course it's going to be awkward and your nanny might have a negative reaction. However, by asking their opinion on the matter, you show that you value them and want them to feel like part of the decision. Keep in mind that you’re on the same team!

The legalities of nanny cams

The most important thing about nanny cams it to make sure you go about having and using one legally. Check your state’s laws about recording devices before you install one in your home. Otherwise, any recordings may be illegal and you won’t be able to use an evidence of abuse and neglect in a court of law. Keep in mind that there are different laws regarding video surveillance and audio recording.

According to Care.com, it’s legal to install a nanny cam in all 50 states without the nanny’s consent. However, you can’t record in private areas, such as a bathroom or a live-in nanny’s bedroom. Cameras must be limited to common rooms only!

As for audio recording, the laws vary by state. According to the law firm Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C., the following states have two-party consent laws in place: California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. This law requires that both parties––or all parties involved––consent to being recorded. If you fail to get your nanny’s consent, any audio recordings that serve as evidence of abuse or neglect may not be permissible in a court of law. Be sure to check the speech laws in your state!

As a courtesy to your nanny, you might want to disclose the locations––or at least existence of––any cameras you have in your home. If he or she finds a hidden camera, they might feel as though you’ve violated their privacy and trust, and choose to resign.

I’ve always believed that nannies should act as though there is a camera in the home, even if they don’t know for sure! A nanny is there to care for and protect the children, which means being compassionate, reliable and a positive role model. Nannies: treat the children in your care with love and respect, and you’ll earn the parent’s trust for life!

Have Courage and Be Kind
XO,
Florence Ann