Spying on the nanny

As any working parent will know, having to leave your child in someone else’s care can be stressful. As a result, more and more parents are installing small hidden cameras, known as nanny cams, throughout their homes in an effort to keep tabs on how their nannies are treating their children.

Do I need a nanny cam?

Ronnell Davids, of Handy Helpers domestic placement agency, claims that if you choose your nanny through a reputable agency, there should be no need for a nanny cam. ‘We do so many checks on our nannies, we are confident that we would pick up anything during our interview and background checking process.’

But she does add that cameras shouldn’t be ruled out all together if you suspect foul play. ‘On the basis that it would not help to build a trusting relationship, I would never advise a mother to start out with a nanny cam,’ she says, ‘however, if you were feeling uneasy, or had reason to suspect your nanny of mistreating your child, then I would certainly support the use of a nanny cam.’

Karin Thomeson of Super Nannies nanny placement agency adds, ‘I also think cameras are useful when you have many members of staff in a household. It can help verify facts when there is conflict between the workers.’

Does a nanny cam mean I can relax?

According to Karin, cameras don’t always equal peace of mind, ‘Personally, I think a nanny cam exacerbates a mother’s worry about leaving her child in safe hands. It certainly does not assist in building a trusting relationship with your nanny,’ says Karin.

 ‘And what’s more, I have actually heard of mothers being addicted to their webcams,’ warns Karin. ‘Mothers can’t wait to get home and see what has been going on in the day. That sounds more obsessive than healthy.’

Do I need to inform my nanny if I decide to use a nanny cam?

‘While it may not be illegal to film your nanny, every nanny deserves the right to know if they are being filmed,’ says Karin.‘If not, it’s the equivalent of eavesdropping on a private situation. Morally that’s not right.’
‘The nannies I’ve interviewed said they didn’t mind if there was a camera, as long as they were told,’ Karin adds.

Ronnell agrees that not informing your nanny of the cameras would create trust issues, but she also adds that your child’s safety should come first in certain situations, ‘If you suspect your nanny of mistreating your children, you don’t want her on her best behaviour for the cameras; you want to see the truth. Your child’s safety obviously comes before the nanny’s privacy in a situation like this.’

Are there alternatives to nanny cams?

If you don’t like the idea of filming your nanny with or without her permission, there are other precautions you can take to ensure your children are well treated:
  • Always do background checks on a nanny before you employ her.
  • Trust your instinct: if you see or suspect something is off, sit your nanny down and discuss it with her.
  • Get a family member, friend or neighbour to drop in unexpectedly at least once a week.
  • If possible, pop home during your lunch hour.
Ever tried a nanny cam? Would you?
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