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Full Disclosure: The New Standard for Nanny Cams

Parents are increasingly turning to nanny cams to ensure the safety of their children with in-home care providers. This trend has been driven by media coverage of nanny abuse cases, but it is also largely influenced by the culture of connectivity we live in. Video surveillance is no longer just for the overprotective or suspicious – it is a way to participate in milestones and see what your kids are up to when you’re away, and a tool for communication with your nanny.

Nanny cams provide peace of mind and quality assurance for parents who would prefer to hire a nanny but have shied away due to the lack of supervision present in facility care. By using a nanny cam, you are able to have both the high end, individualized care of a professional nanny, as well as proof that your children are getting the best care possible.

There is, of course, a catch.

The use of nanny cams is often viewed negatively by nannies and au pairs, but not because they are being filmed. The primary aversion is due to the lack of trust a hidden camera implies, and concern over their privacy being violated in places such as bathrooms or private bedrooms (this mainly applies to live-in nannies and au pairs, but also includes live-out nannies who have a designated room in the home for when they work extended hours or overnight). While it is legal in all fifty states to have hidden cameras in your home, if your nanny discovers she’s being filmed without her knowledge, it could permanently damage your working relationship, and even result in her quitting.

For this reason, companies such as Seattle-based NannySure are going beyond standard surveillance tactics, providing a transparent resource that benefits both parents and nannies. Observations customized to each family are compiled into a report that is provided to both the parents and the nanny, and either party can request footage. This benefits nannies who want advice on behavioral issues, and is especially helpful if parents are not wanting to believe their little cherub was capable of said behavioral issues. Obviously trusting your childcare provider is paramount, but also being able to eliminate hearsay from your 5-year-old? Yes, please.

Justin Baram-Blackwell, founder of NannySure, states his company’s approach builds on the proven concept that “employees will perform better when they know they are being observed,” and that “covert monitoring not only destroys trust but fails to proactively protect your family.” By creating an environment where there’s mutual trust and open communication, parents are able to more effectively manage their employees, and nannies are able to have their hard work acknowledged. “After all,” says Baram-Blackwell, “how can you comment on a job well done when no one thought you were watching?”

Another caveat to covert monitoring: you may not be the only one watching. Baby monitors and nanny cams are alarmingly easy to hack if they aren’t secured, so it’s crucial to hire an expert if you aren’t (hacker level) tech savvy. It is also a good reminder to parents that if they would feel violated being watched without their knowledge, so would their nanny – a point well worth considering when it comes to maintaining such an intimate working relationship.

Deciding whether or not to install surveillance is a personal choice, but one that is best addressed by first voicing your concerns to your nanny directly. There is no substitute for healthy, open communication. Technology has never been more prevalent in our world, and there are advantages and disadvantages to taking this route.

Bottom line: if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

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