The Nanny Cam Question: To Cam or Not to Cam?

It’s always a big question. Should we use a nanny cam or not? The answer can be different for different families.

In-home surveillance devices, often referred to as “Nanny Cams” or “Granny Cams” (for seniors being cared for) can be used as a valuable tool for BOTH family and caregiver.

The cameras can either be hidden or out in the open. Most hidden cams are wireless and can come in the form of anything from a clock radio to a stuffed animal or they can be small cameras hidden throughout the household. Prices range anywhere from about $50 for basic functionality to up to $500 for digital systems that offer live video feeds to your mobile device or computer.

So when presented with the nanny cam question, we always recommend that a family do what they are most comfortable doing, but always remind them that if having a nanny cam would make them more comfortable, then they should base their decision on THAT comfort level rather than any discomfort they may face when discussing the issue with potential (or existing) caregivers.

Here are a few things to consider when considering whether or not to use a nanny cam:

  • Age of the child/senior.  If a caregiver will be caring for someone who can not talk or reliably communicate such as very young children, special needs children, or in some cases very elderly seniors, nanny cams can offer valuable confirmation of quality caregiving, help identify any issues or concerns, or just help identify simple adjustments that you may prefer take place.
  • Make it a positive.  The use of a nanny cam can be a positive thing for all involved. Let your caregiver know you’d like to use it so you don’t miss precious milestones, allow the video feeds to be shared with distant grandparents, allow you to “be there” during the day when you can’t physically be there, or whatever scenario applies. You can even solicit the caregiver’s involvement by asking her to showcase milestones into “one of” the cameras in particular (without divulging the location –or existence– of any other cameras if they are hidden). Many caregivers embrace the use of a nanny cam so the family can see how well they do at their job!
  • The cam factor.  Keep in mind that one of the main benefits of having a nanny cam is that the caregiver knows about it. The presence of one adds extra incentive to give the best care possible. It’s presence also adds to the peace of mind of the family, knowing they have that extra pair of “eyes” constantly on duty.
  • Red flags.  If you plan to utilize a nanny cam, be sure to discuss this with potential candidates during the interview process (making sure to be clear that they are never placed in any private areas–e.g., bathrooms). Take note of candidates’ reactions. Discomfort from a candidate can be a red flag. Quality caregivers who have nothing to hide typically have no problems with nanny cams.
  • Legal?  It IS legal in all 50 United States to utilize hidden cameras (video) in the home, so long as they are not in private places [e.g., bathrooms, caregivers' private bedrooms (for live-in), etc.]  It is NOT, however, legal to record audio without a person’s consent in the following states: CA, CT, FL, IL, MD, MA, MT, NV, NH, OR, PA, and WA.  And regardless of the state, it is almost always illegal to record a conversation to which you are not a party, do not have consent to tape, and could not naturally overhear.  In general, we recommend consulting with an attorney before recording audio.
  • Other uses.  Nanny cams are also great for surveilling your home when you’re away on vacation, monitoring your home when it’s being cleaned or repaired, etc.

We’ve heard from many families who have chosen to utilize a cam and many who have not. In a nutshell, families should do what is right for their family and makes them most comfortable.

Do you use a nanny cam? What have you experienced? Share your thoughts!