The idea of spying on your children and caregivers is as old as the act of parenting itself. (I assume!) But is a nanny camera the only way to truly get peace of mind? And if you do decide to install one, do you have to tell your nanny about it? We asked Sheri Reed, the child care editor for Care.com, to weigh in.
The pros: It’s a personal choice for sure, but it does provide comfort, says Reed. You can log in at a moment’s notice to confirm that a nap started on time, but also drop in unannounced as a virtual fly on the wall to be sure that your caregiver is doing his or her job. (It’s also becoming a lot more common: By 2020, it’s estimated that 22 million Americans will have smart security systems in their home.)
The cons: There’s no denying that a nanny cam impacts the relationship you have with your caregiver, especially as it relates to trust, according to Reed. For one thing, it turns you into a de facto micromanager, a role you may or may not want. It can also create a distance between your nanny and child as they become on edge, knowing they’re being watched. There’re also other risks you could expose yourself to, such as hacking, which is rampant in an industry that’s still more focused on technological advancements than basic security. “You need to be sure to change the password from the default and update it regularly to protect yourself,” Reed adds.)
The case for telling your nanny it’s there: First and foremost, you’ll want to review state laws that may limit what you’re able to record. “It’s legal to install a home security camera in a home in every state. However, the laws that dictate how and what you can record vary,” Reed explains. (A quick Google search confirmed that while nanny cams are legal in New York, they are not legal in the bathroom, for example.) What’s more, some mandate consent. Bottom line: You need to find out before installing your own. As for telling your nanny it exists? Once you’ve worked out the legality behind your decision, it’s a smart idea to clue them in. “If you don’t tell them and only bring it up later when you’re pointing out something they did wrong, the caregiver could be unpleasantly surprised,” says Reed.
A script for letting them know: Some families opt to include it in their employment contract. Others mention it face to face. “You could explain it by saying: ‘I want to make sure you’re aware that we have nanny cams in the home in X locations and we regularly check the live stream. We want you to know that it’s not because we don’t trust you, but it just gives us peace of mind to know that everything at home is running smoothly,’” Reed says. “And remember that it’s never your goal to catch a caregiver doing something wrong; it’s about prevention.”