We’ve all seen the beloved show catching people’s natural reactions to silly situations on hidden camera. Some so unbelievable that you wonder how the one caught off guard didn’t see it for what it was…a joke! Hours of side-splitting laughter and vows of “They’ll never catch me!” later, we still buy and plant hidden cameras today…only for far different reasons.
One reason is the hidden nanny cam. Households all over America are employing the help of a hidden camera, placing them in strategic locations in the home to keep a watchful eye on their nanny. Cameras today are so small they can easily be hidden in a potted plant, between books on a bookshelf, or sewn into a cute and cuddly Teddy bear. Clever!
Are you considering the purchase yourself? If you are, there are certainly some delicate issues to contemplate. For starters, ask yourself these direct questions, giving nothing but honest answers:
Is this a good idea, or an invasion of our nanny’s privacy?
Parents who are anxious about someone else caring for their child is a valid concern. Placing a nanny cam certainly sounds like a reasonable and wise step to insure the well-being and safety of your children. However, most nannies would consider a hidden nanny cam as an invasion of privacy because whatever private personal habits the nanny may have in now exposed and on videotape not under her control. We’ve all seen YouTube!
What are the legalities of a hidden camera?
Video surveillance laws in all 50 states allow for hidden cameras, even if you choose to videotape your nanny without her consent. However, it is against the law to place hidden cameras in sensitive areas, such as the bathroom or the nanny’s bedroom if she lives in. All hidden cameras are required to be placed in common spaces, such as kitchen, living room or playroom. Although you can legally videotape your nanny, these 15 states have laws banning audio recordings: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. In these states parents must notify the nanny of the nanny cam, and it recording both audio and video. Not doing so, could lead to prosecution for violating the law. Any evidence found on the videotape showing neglect or abuse could then be inadmissible in a legal proceeding.
What will this do to the relationship with our nanny if she finds it?
On one hand, when a nanny stumbles upon a hidden nanny cam it can devastate the best of relationships, especially if she’s been employed for any length of time. Trust is an important bridge to build when employing a nanny and this takes time. Destroying it only takes a moment. On the other hand, some nannies consider it a great gateway of proof, confirming the hard work and dedication they pour out each and every day.
Do we tell the nanny about the hidden camera(s) or keep it a secret?
This is the critical question! Keeping your nanny cam a secret and relying on what it captures, is truly a swinging gate. On one hinge you have evidence of the quality of care your child is receiving, and any misbehavior by the nanny. However, on the other hinge, you are leaving the gate open waiting for an incident to occur rather than preventing it from happening. Disclosing the use of nanny cams can most certainly prevent unsafe situations and harmful actions! Nannies that are told about the camera prior to employment have far less reservations about their use than those who were unaware. If you interview a nanny and disclose the use of the nanny cam, pay close attention to her response or her reaction. If she reacts in a negative way, you may want to interview other candidates, as she’s not the right fitting nanny for your family.
In a nutshell, the pros and cons in using a nanny cam are:
- Peace of mind
- Legal evidence
- Your child’s milestones are captured
- Builds confidence in safety & quality of childcare
- Positive connection with your family while at work (if you use a system accessible by smartphone or computer)
- Limitations & expense
- Time to view the hours of video
- Strain on the relationship with your nanny
- Compromise security of your home to anyone with a cheap receiver (if you use camera system accessible by smartphone or computer)
Deciding to use a nanny cam, either secretly or openly truly rests on each individual family. Whichever you choose, the key point to keep in mind when selecting your nanny is take your time. No amount of current technology can replace investing your time in getting to know your nanny, cultivating a strong connection with her, and building a bridge of trust together.
~Shelley Koontz, Nanny & Babysitting Dept. Coordinator @ Motherhood Center
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