Is A Nanny Cam Right for Your Family?
The use of nanny cams (hidden cameras) is controversial. Some people think nanny cams are a sound way for parents to keep tabs on their children and ensure that their nanny is handling their children in a manner that is consistent with parental expectations. Other people think nanny cams are an invasion of privacy. What are the facts of this situation?
The use of video-only (no audio) nanny cams is legal in all 50 states . . . if you tell your nanny that she has no right to expect privacy in your home (with the exception that she should be able to have privacy in her bedroom and bathroom in your home). It is best to have your nanny, at the time of her hire, sign a statement that she acknowledges no right to privacy (except in her bedroom and bathroom) in your home.
Audio recording comes with greater legal risk. In some states, hidden audio recording of your children and your nanny is not legal under any circumstances.
For those families that choose to use nanny cams, the dilemma becomes whether to tell the nanny where the nanny cams are located. Nanny cams are frequently located in teddy bears, house plants, clocks, etc. throughout the house, but should the nanny know that she is being nanny cammed in the hallways (a nanny cam is in the hall clock) but not in the living room? This is a decision that each family must make based on their own unique circumstances.
The primary purpose for using nanny cams should be to keep tabs on the children. Do you need to be away while little Johnny is having a play date? Do you want to see if he had fun? The nanny cam will enable you to see little Johnny and his buddy, and you may feel like you were actually there. Knowing about your children and the events in their lives is very important.
A secondary purpose for using nanny cams is to ensure that the nanny is handling the children in a manner that is consistent with parental expectations. When the nanny is new to the family and trust is still being established, or if trust later becomes an issue in the relationship between family and nanny, nanny cams can be invaluable tools for establishing or maintaining trust in the nanny, for letting parents know when they need to clarify expectations with their nanny, or for establishing that trust is not supported by the facts. Preventing needless discharges of nannies falsely suspicioned and supporting discharges for nannies who have been shown to be violating a family’s trust are significant advantages of nanny cams. Keep in mind that the relationship between family and nanny is an employment relationship, despite the family-like feel to the relationship. Trust between a family and their nanny is essential but earned.
In sum, the use of nanny cams offers both benefits and risks. Only you can decide what is best for your family. If you decide to use nanny cams, you should communicate your decision in a direct, tactful manner to your children and your nanny. Focus on the primary purpose of nanny cams: your desire to keep tabs on your children and see how they spend their days. Honesty is the cornerstone of healthy relationships: so, if at some point you develop a concern about the trustworthiness of your nanny, you should visit with your nanny about your concerns. Your nanny cams will then come in handy for their secondary purpose.
Nanny cams are less expensive and easier to use than ever. For many families, “better safe than sorry” is their motto. By navigating the hazards referenced in this blog, families should be able to reap the benefits while minimizing their risks.
*You should speak with an attorney in your state to ensure compliance with your state’s laws and to craft a no-right-to-privacy statement for your nanny to sign at the time of her hire.