Nanny Cams: Illegal? Unethical? or Both?

Nanny Cams: Illegal? Unethical? or Both?

by Ali Dinani

The ill-conceived product of over anxious parents or a modern safety measure for your child? Nanny cams present a complex decision to many families.

The Nanny Cam: a hidden video camera, secretly installed in a common household item such as such a teddy bear, clock, radio, plant or tissue box. It is used to secretly monitor and record the activities of caregivers.

But there the clarity ends! We understand the 'what', but it is the 'when' and the 'how' that are the problems! What are the circumstances that would demand such action? How will you use it; with your nanny’s knowledge of it or not? And before we begin, is it even legal?

Before you install hidden surveillance cameras in your home, you should know the legal implications surrounding them.

Nanny cams are legal across the United States, if you use them appropriately. The law has specifications about the visibility of the camera, the location in which it is placed, and whether it can or can’t record audio.

  1. Visibility

    In the USA hidden surveillance cameras are legal. Your nanny does not need to know that you are using cameras to monitor her behavior and child care methodologies.The main requirement is that, if a hidden camera is used, the purpose should be solely for the safety and well-being of the child.

  2. Location

    The US government has set out that cameras must not be placed in a location where an individual would expect privacy, ie a bathroom or personal bedroom.

  3. Audio

    The audio jurisdictions on nanny cams vary from state to state. Thirteen states allow video but no audio. With permission from the individual being recorded, you may record audio in any location.

But what of the ethical issues around the nanny cam? There is a huge issue of trust wrapped around your decision.

Should you hire a nanny that you feel needs constant surveillance? Do your homework!

As well, and maybe key to all of this, is how your nanny would feel if by your admission, or accidentally, she found out that her time with your children was being so closely monitored. How do you expect to build a positive working relationship with a caregiver when you exhibit little or no confidence in her.

Did you ever think it would be YOU that would turn out to be the Big Brother from George Orwell's 1984?