Nanny Cams – the best defense against nanny abuse

By Jacalyn S Burke,

Why buy a Nanny Cam?
“I just felt like something was… off,” said Jennifer, a working mom of two. “So I installed
a web cam.” She expected to find a simple explanation for her veteran nanny’s
seemingly sudden change in behavior. But when Jennifer first logged in to the
web cam live feed, she was irked to find that her four month-old son had not
been moved from the spot she’d left him in, hours before. When the nanny
finally picked the baby up and he spit up on her, Jennifer was horrified to
witness her nanny yell and then forcefully place him in the baby swing. She
went straight home and fired her nanny. 1
Thankfully, the most extreme forms of abuse: shaking, slapping, are quickly caught by Nanny
Cams, and in-home surveillance remains the most effective parental precaution.
But a Nanny Cam shouldn’t be an impulse purchase.  There are 5 things parents should think about first before
buying one.
  1. Do we tell our Nanny we installed one?
  2. Which Nanny Cam is best?
  3. Where do we put it?
  4. Is it legal?
  5. Trouble-shooting
Disclose or not?
There are two schools of thought on the subject of
disclosure.  It goes something like this:
o      The
Yes Camp: telling a nanny that she will
be monitored during the course of a working day creates a working environment
of mutual trust. It also raises her game. On the job performance scrutiny is
routine in most other sectors, so parents should explain it as such and need
not feel weird about revealing it.
o      The
No Camp: notifying a nanny will simply
nullify a Nanny Cam’s most effective features: measuring the quality of care
offered and catching potentially dysfunctional actions early on.
Comments made by nannies (on the internet) that discovered
a hidden Nanny Cam runs roughly 50/50. Half reported feeling startled, betrayed
and violated and equally as many nannies, while surprised to find a Nanny Cam,
were not overly perturbed. Collectively this group felt that they were doing
their job, and had nothing to be anxious about.  Clearly then the choice to disclose a Nanny Cam or not, is a personal one.
Which Nanny Cam is best?
Nanny Cams are hidden in everyday
objects like: teddy bears, clock radios, wall hooks, and other commonplace
objects. 2 They use two basic technological forms when recording and your
lifestyle will dictate which one is best.
1)    A
stationary camera (recorded data) connected to a VCR or DVR that records video
internally that parents view at a later date. Pros: affordable, easy to set-up and use. Cons: makes for
time-consuming and often monotonous viewing and that can lead to complacency.
A web cam  (live
streaming data) using a wireless transmitter that allows real-time remote
viewing by a working parent.  Pros:
connects a parent to their children 24-7, thus acting as more of a surveillance
tool. Cons: more expensive, can generate obsessive snooping and a distraction
from the ‘day-job’. 3
Reviews are a great resource: sites like and offer technological advice. For more
hands-on peer reviews parents can turn to sites like and,, and
Where do we put it?
The purpose of a Nanny Cam is to monitor the actions of a
caregiver in her daily routine. So it needs to be placed where a nanny spends the
of her care-giving time. A Nanny
Cam cannot be placed somewhere where a nanny’s personal privacy would be
violated, for example, a bathroom or her bedroom.
Is it legal?
Nanny Cams are legal in all 50 states, however in 13
(California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania
or Washington) it is illegal to record audio without express or written
consent of the nanny being filmed.
When purchasing your Nanny Cam ask
the following questions:
1)    Is the
Nanny Cam a good visual fit for our home? (Teddy or I-Pod?)
2)    Which
brand is best? (Price is a good indicator)
3)    What’s
this Nanny Cam’s range of vision?
(Spy-hole or panoramic)
4)    What’s
its storage space?
5)    What’s
its battery life?
6)    Which
recording mode does it use?
7)    What’s
the resolution and video quality?
8)    How
easy is this Nanny Cam to set up?
Nanny X’s opinion: use a web cam
Background checks and references can only tell a
prospective employer half the story. Disonance between a glowing resume and
actual ‘on-the-job’ performance is not uncommon. Remember abusive nannies are
only caught once they commit a provable crime. Don’t let your family become a
casualty. A good Nanny Cam is your family’s first line of defense.
3) Technical reviews: