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Nanny Cam: Yes or No?

Brooke Chateauneuf
Aug. 4, 2017

Installing a hidden camera in your home? Not so fast. Be sure you know all the facts and nanny cam laws before you press record.

Nanny Cam: Yes or No?

Nanny cameras, commonly referred to as nanny cams, have gained significant recognition and caused more than a few eyebrow raises in the last few years. News stories about nanny cams catching nannies and babysitters "in the act" have caused many parents to buy a nanny cam of their own to keep an eye on things. If your family is considering a nanny cam, here are some factors to consider.


What Is a Nanny Cam?

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As the name suggests, nanny cams are cameras placed in a house to keep an eye on your nanny, babysitter or au pair and your children. Typically, they are installed in strategic locations throughout the home to get a clear view of your nanny and child and, in many cases, the camera is hidden in an object or out of sight.

Nanny cams also aren't just for nannies. You can also use them to monitor pet sitters and housekeepers who visit your home while you're not around. Many day cares have similar surveillance systems in place.


What Nanny Cam Laws Should I Know?

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It can be difficult to make the decision to purchase a camera, but if you choose to, it's important to know the legalities. Families can choose whether or not to tell their caregiver that they have a nanny cam. And there are two types of laws you need to be aware of: ones for video surveillance and ones for audio recordings.

  • Video Surveillance Laws: It's legal to install a nanny cam in all 50 states, even if you choose to videotape your nanny without her consent. However, you can't tape her in private areas of your home, such as the bathroom or a live-in nanny's bedroom. If you do install a nanny cam, be sure to do so in common spaces, such as the kitchen or playroom.
  • Speech Laws: While you can videotape your nanny, several states have laws to protect against audio recordings. If you live in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania or Washington, you must notify your nanny if you have a nanny cam that records both audio and video. Not only could you be prosecuted for violating this law, but any evidence of abuse or neglect found on the tape could be inadmissible during legal proceedings.


What Are the Benefits of Installing a Nanny Cam?

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The main benefit of a nanny cam is getting assurance that your children are being cared for effectively and safely. Trusting a near-stranger with your children can be extremely difficult, and a nanny cam can help you be sure you hired a responsible and honest caregiver.

It also might be a good way to spot things that you and your nanny need to chat about. For example, if you see her spending a lot of time texting, you may want to come up with an agreement where she only texts when the kids are napping. Do your kids seem to be playing indoors too much? Maybe they need frequent trips to the park.

Nanny cams can also help you keep tabs on your children when you're not home. Because you can't be there at all times to care for your children, a nanny cam allows you to watch them as if you were. It also offers you the opportunity to observe events in your children's lives, as well as see how they are learning and developing.


What Are the Risks of Installing a Nanny Cam?

Beyond the legal issues surrounding the installation of a nanny cam, you should also consider the ethical implications of such a device. If your nanny finds a hidden nanny cam, it's likely that your relationship will be harmed or she may even quit.

You may want to have a discussion with your nanny before you install the camera. Let her know why you're doing it and address any concerns she may have. She may be worried about winding up on YouTube. Who has access to the video? What do you do with the recordings after watching them? Maybe you agree to have the nanny cam in place temporarily for a few weeks or months as you're building trust, then reassess later on. This also is a great thing to talk about when you're interviewing potential new nannies.

Even if you do decide to install a nanny cam, you should still communicate with your nanny daily. Talk about what she and your children did that day, any issues that came up, plans for the following day, etc. And if a nanny makes you feel uneasy and you don't trust her to be with your kids without a camera, then she may not be the right caregiver for you and your family in the first place. 

Read next: Background checks: What every family needs to know before hiring a caregiver

Comments

Having a nanny cam has nothing to do with not trusting the person watching your child. Of course you wouldn't purposely bring someone into your home to watch your children if you didn't trust them to begin with. For me, it's a sense of reassurance and protection. In today's age you just never know what someone is or isn't doing with your children. I personal don't even check my cameras unless I feel like there is a need to look. Even child cares use cameras to protect their businesses. If a nanny doesn't feel comfortable with the nanny cams then they have the right to turn down a job or find another one.

User in Tracy, CA
July 28, 2016

I am extremely against the use of nanny cams. I got hired by a family who openly disclosed that they had them and originally I didn't mind, they didn't elaborate as to why they had them at all so I figured it was no big deal and they'd only check it if something went wrong, or to pop in every so often and see how their son was doing. Boy was I wrong!! They took creepy to a whole new level, spying on me the entire time, texting me telling me to get back to work (I wasn't allowed any breaks) and even telling me what to do through the cameras microphone all day. Needless to say I quit immediately. Creepy weirdos. If you don't trust your caregiver, don't hire them.

User in Naperville, IL
March 28, 2016

I have been a nanny for 7 years and now a mother of a 3 month old. I can see both sides of the argument completely. I am all for nanny cams, but I do believe it should be disclosed to the nanny. It is not a public place or a daycare...you are supposed to be in a private setting and most families want you to feel at home in their home. However, what if someone picked their nose or did something embarassing like pick a wedgie? I know that sounds silly, but also, just the other day I was pumping in a room where the children sometimes go when theyre not at school....what if someone was filming?? How would you feel if you had no idea? I am pro nanny cam because I would use one with my daughter...it might save you from having to \

User in Fort Mill, SC
Oct. 11, 2015

As a nanny I am ok with cameras, as long as they inform me of them! I have nothing to hide, therefore they can watch as much as they want! But, if they have hidden cameras that I don't know of and I was to find out, I would resign immediately.

User
May 7, 2015

As a parent i would never hurt a child as a nanny that would be the worst thing i have gone on to work in a house where there were camera and i was comfortable working in front of it but i got fired or let go as bossess would say because there kids were so nasty to me and instead of them talking to the kids they said the kids did not get along well with me mind you the adult and i get along very and they see how good i was with the children i have even been commented on it but hey you worker and in their mind you are just the babysitter and they think that because you are in their house working that that is just your full stop, however i am still for camera not hidden reason one if a person does not want to work in front of the camera ma be they have something to hide , there are other work places that there are cameras no exceptions so why not its for your peace of mind and mine reason two dont hide it because the untrustworthy person who you call the reference do the background check does not know that its there and harm your child you have it on camera but they hurt your child what is it anyway when they disrespect your home andd space leave kids with scars no good

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