Nanny Cam Laws: Is It Legal?

Posted by   Steve Thibeault
08/24/2018
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Nanny Cam Laws

In many homes today, the modern family lifestyle involves both parents working.

This creates an increased need in families looking for alternate forms of childcare, such as in-home nannies. Online searches of families looking for nannies has increased over 85% annually.

You spend weeks searching, interviewing, and training the perfect nanny for your children. But how do you know you can give over full trust when it comes to your child's well-being?

This is where many parents turn to nanny cams. They offer a sense of reassurance when your child is in someone else's care.

Before you start installing those hidden cameras, here's everything you need to know about nanny cam laws.

Nanny Cam 101

Cameras and monitors get used by parents, grandparents, and babysitters to keep a close eye on those precious sleeping angels. Caretakers have become dependent on the technology to give them peace of mind at night and during naptime.

Cameras have become our eyes and ears, giving access from behind closed doors. So what if the roles get reversed? Enter nanny cams.

Rather than keeping a watchful eye on the baby, the camera turns to watch the babysitter. Now, this could make for an awkward experience for the sitter. Yet, most are not even aware the camera is watching them.

Call it spying, or checking up on your child. But 78% of Americans believe that camera surveillance is a good idea when it comes to safety.

The Benefits of Baby Sitter Cameras

It may sound a bit invasive at first. But there are many benefits to having your eye in the sky.

It's a way to ensure your child is safe, secure, and getting proper care when you are not around. It's how a working mom and dad can feel content for the wellbeing of their child.

A nanny cam helps establish trust with new caregivers. If you do not know them well enough yet, it can provide a peace of mind during those first few weeks. The cam shows you the habits of the babysitter, and if they mesh well with your child.

It can also help you feel connected to your child when going back to work. The nanny camera makes it feel like you're not missing out as much. You can even observe the developmental milestones of your children.

It is, after all, a parent's right to protect their child. Babysitter cameras can help avoid mistakes or accidents from happening.

Parental Control While You're Away

Many moms and dads rely on a nanny cam to alert them of any issues or neglect from the babysitter. This allows them to communicate expectations with the sitter or find someone else more fit for the job.

The nanny cam shows whether the babysitter follows a proper activity and sleep schedule for the kids. Are they respecting your wishes and not allowing too much TV time? Does the sitter play on their phone the entire day?

If there is a dispute between nanny and child, you have video evidence to get to the bottom of what happened. It's a sad truth, but sometimes kids lie and make stories up. A video camera system can prevent you from firing an innocent nanny.

Keep in mind that a nanny camera is not always showing you the whole picture. For example, you may see your child by themselves for a moment and consider it neglect. When in fact your nanny was using the restroom or in another room preparing a snack for the child.

Maintain a Balance of Control and Trust

It's important not to take a video out of context. You should always communicate any concerns for clarification. The camera shouldn't get used to spy on a nanny when taking a much-needed break during a child's nap.

Some mothers have even gone as far as putting a GPS tracking device inside a diaper bag. This may offer peace of mind when the child is out of the home but takes away trust from the nanny. It's important to maintain a balance of control and trust.

Many childcare facilities have these camera systems in place. It's an extra precaution for protecting a child. Parents can even check up on their children during the day using the daycare's online camera features.

This real-time technology has become a part of our lifestyle. Yet, it's important to know what to expect when installing a nanny cam system.

Nanny Cam Laws, What's Legal?

Recording the daily activities of your nanny may seem harmless enough. But before you press play, it's important to know the legal rights.

So, are nanny cameras legal? Well, there's a difference when it comes to seeing and hearing the nanny's actions.

You have every legal right to go ahead and install a nanny camera system in your home. You don't even have to let them know you're recording their every move.

But beware of where you place those cameras. Private locations within the home (bathrooms, nanny's bedroom, etc.) cannot get recorded. This is for obvious privacy reasons, and to protect the nanny's personal rights.

Other laws protect from an audio recording of your nanny. If you live in the following states, it's illegal to record with audio without the nanny's consent.

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Lousiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusettes
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

If planning to record audio in these states, you must tell your nanny beforehand. It's best to get written consent for this. Failure to follow these rules could be punishable by law.

Say you find something unsatisfactory on your audio recordings. It could get thrown out in court if obtained illegally. This in itself is reason enough to follow the law when it comes to video surveillance.

It's also important to note that you do not have the right to post recorded content anywhere you wish. Video recordings should never see YouTube or any type of social media platform.

Installing a Nanny Cam

If you decide to go for it, there should be a strategy in place. First, determine which areas in the home you want to install cameras.

They should get placed in strategic locations. Such as the playroom, child's bedroom, kitchen, living area, or outdoor patio.

The teddy bear cam is a cute idea. But if you're trying to be discreet, It's the first place a nanny is going to look. Best to be upfront if going this route.

Less obvious objects to hide cameras include clocks or knick-knacks on a bookshelf. You can also hide them inside plants or electronics, such as a radio.

It's important to note that the camera won't only be spying on the babysitter. You will also capture the actions of housekeepers, pet sitters, and cable installers. The same video and audio recording laws apply.

You'll also be catching your own family on camera. So this raises the question of whether you want your kids to know that you are watching them. When they are old enough, they will no doubt have an opinion on it.

Do You Tell the Babysitter?

It's your ethical decision if you wish to let your nanny know about your new camera system.

Some babysitters have no issues with watching a child whose parents use a camera system. Some even add it to their resume to make getting a job easier. Some are parents of their own and understand the extra sense of security it provides.

If your nanny seems uncertain, allow them to speak their questions and concerns. You may be able to compromise on a trial period until you feel comfortable enough to not always have the camera on.

The interview process is a good time to let potential nannies know about your video camera. This way you can find one that is comfortable enough to still watch your children.

If you choose not to tell your nanny, they could find out on their own that you have been monitoring them. This could upset them and risk your relationship. They may even end up quitting.

Do Your Research, but Trust Your Gut

Some parents only choose to install a camera if they sense a change in behavior or something seems off. In this case, you wouldn't likely tell the nanny that you plan to start monitoring them.

Either way, the nanny cam shouldn't take the place of hiring someone you trust. 62% of parents report hiring a nanny without first checking references. A camera shouldn't condone skipping a background check when hiring a new nanny.

Technology also shouldn't take the place of person-to-person communication. It's the parent's job to have honest and open conversations with the nanny.

Other Home Security Considerations

In many homes, a nanny cam also acts as a general home security system. It stays on long after the nanny leaves or goes to bed for the evening.

A camera system is one of the best ways to boost home security. Most babysitters understand this.

People feel safer with a security system, and burglars are more likely to skip homes with this added measure. This explains why 39% of homes that value over $300,000 gets protected by an alarm system.

Security systems can also help out burglars behind bars. A trespasser in your home has no privacy rights. You or the police can use any recording of them in court.

Which Camera System is Right for You?

In the end, a nanny cam is like any other home safety device. It can protect your family, as long as you follow proper nanny cam laws.

Some nanny cams can hold days of footage, while others offer live-feed access. It all depends on the investment you want to make and what your needs are.

Take a look at this guide for choosing the perfect security system for your home.

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