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To use a nanny cam or not to use a nanny cam…that is the question!

August 9, 2010

By, Dr. Lindsay Heller  The Nanny Doctor

So, you are thinking about using a nanny cam…you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Let’s talk about how to handle and manage these fears. This is a delicate and sensitive issue. There are not only legal issues to consider but also how it may impact the relationship you have with your nanny.

If you are thinking about using a nanny cam, you probably have a lot of fears related to leaving your child with a nanny. Some of these fears are natural, while others may be common but irrational. You may have heard about nannies abusing children in the news and now that you have your own little one, you are deathly afraid. First of all, you need to know that nannies rarely abuse children. Secondly, you need to know that it is natural to be a little afraid and cautious, however, your fear shouldn’t paralyze you, it should lead you to make good choices about who cares for your child and listening to your gut. Knowledge builds confidence, so please vet your nanny carefully using the eNannySource Nanny Success Kit and Nanny Background Check before hiring a nanny and using a nanny cam.

First Things First
When it comes to using a nanny cam, I recommend that you let the nanny know in the interview that you are planning to use one. Now, for some this may seem contradictory, however, it is not! I’d rather that an incident is completely prevented rather than “caught” and being up front about your use of a nanny cam can raise awareness for the nanny and help to prevent any issues.

In addition to the laws, you may want to think about how this may affect your relationship with your nanny. Trust is very important in this unique relationship and needs to be nurtured. If you are to go with a nanny cam, you should discuss this with your interview candidates prior to hiring (in the interview) and once hired, have the nanny sign a document stating that they are aware of the “hidden camera.” This way you are hiring someone who you know is comfortable with this practice.  A nanny who finds out after some time working for your family that there is a nanny cam may feel insulted and any trust you may have built will be ruined.

Is it legal?
The short answer is it is legal to use a hidden camera in all 50 states, however it is illegal to record someone’s speech in 15 states without their consent. California Video recording of “confidential communications” is prohibited without consent.

The laws of 13 states expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in private places. In some states, installation or use of any device for photographing, observing or overhearing events or sounds in a private place without the permission of the people photographed or observed is against the law. A private place is one where a person may reasonably expect to be safe from unauthorized surveillance.

Consider that studies and polls show that many care providers are not necessarily against video taping of child-provider interaction, it’s just that they want to know about it. It seems to be a matter of trust and feeling of deception. Some parents handle the situation by telling a potential care provider upfront that a nanny cam will be used so that they can feel comfortable and confident about their child’s care. It’s then up to the nanny to accept or decline the position with a family who uses a nanny cam.

A final note
If you feel so concerned about someone caring for your children, you should listen to that gut instinct and not hire them to care for your children. If you think you are feeling a little anxious as a new parent and need the nanny cam to get through the initial transition period, however, that’s completely understandable.


8 Responses to To use a nanny cam or not to use a nanny cam…that is the question!

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rebecca, nanny to camden and pierce says:

for me, as a nanny, i don’t mind if there’s a nanny cam in the house as long as i know about it. i have kids and i get that it can be scary to leave them under someone else’s care. however, i also don’t want to be filmed without giving my consent.

Jessica Howard says:

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that a nanny-employer relationship is about trust. While I understand why some people feel like they need a nanny cam, I’ve personally never accepted a position where the family has used one because I feel like they need to be comfortable with me and they aren’t really if they feel the need to videotape me during the day…

Marlene says:

We use a nanny cam for the first couple months with a new nanny to make sure that we are comfortable with her caregiving methods, and then we reassess from there. If we feel like she’s a good fit, we’ll typically turn it off. If we don’t, then we begin the search for a new nanny. I know it’s not a method everyone wants to use, but it gives my family peace of mind.

admin says:

We are loving all of the varied responses!! Nanny cams are a hot topic and individual choice – keep your opinions coming!

Emileigh M. says:

My husband and I have been debating using a nanny cam because our kids are too young to verbally tell us if something is wrong. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a little paranoid about my kids, but in my opinion I’d rather be safe than sorry!

Noreen O. says:

I didn’t realize there were so many laws surrounding video surveillance in private places… I think I always just assumed that if it was your house it was your decision. That definitely brings new considerations to using a nanny cam for us!

admin says:

We’d recommend doing your research on the laws in your state before deciding to put up a nanny cam – the last thing you want is to break the law out of sheer ignorance on the matter and get in trouble! :)

Helen says:

The relationship with a nanny is ALL about trust. Without it, you have nothing. For that reason, I am pretty against the use of nanny cams.