The debate: Would you ever install a nanny cam?

Two parents face off on the topic of nanny cams.

Photo: Lauri Wiberg/iStockphoto

“Yes, I would install a nanny cam.”
Ian Mendes, dad of two

I’m in favour of using a nanny cam, but not because we’re uncomfortable with other people looking a fter our two daughters, ages eight and five. We hire a teenaged girl in our neighbourhood to babysit on a regular basis, and I’m not one of those helicopter parents who likes to hover around their kids at all times. But, the great thing about having a nanny cam is that it allows you to be a “drone parent” — one who has the abili ty to check on your kids without anybody else knowing.

Thankfully, today’s nanny cams can be inconspicuous.

This isn’t like the 1990s when families were forced to have a souped-up version of Teddy Ruxpin sitting on the fireplace mantle, with creepy eyes that followed a caregiver’s every move. Back then, you were left with a couple of hours of grainy footage to watch on a clunky VHS machine. Did anybody actually watch those tapes? Probably not.

Today’s high-definition cameras are so discreet they can fit inside the eye of a Littlest Pet Shop figurine. You can even install video monitors with live feeds that stream on your smart phone. And since we have this technology at our disposal, we’d be foolish not to use it to our advantage.

I would never accuse our babysitter of being neglectful with our kids, but I still want to spy on her every move. I would love to catch her going into the freezer to steal a little ice cream. Finding clear video evidence of her trying to smooth out the top of the container, like she didn’t take any Rocky Road, would be priceless. And if I confronted her with the clip, maybe I could get her to knock 50 cents off her hourly rate.

I would also love to get an idea of exactly what happens at bedtime when we’re not around. Everybody who babysits our children insists they are perfect angels who go to sleep with no issues. But my wife and I both know that bedtime at our house is like a scene out of a horror movie — complete with blood-curdling screams when we tell them it’s time to brush their teeth. So I’d like to see why things run so miraculously when we’re not around. If the babysitter is bribing them with a candy-for-flossing program, I want to know about it.

“No, I would never install a nanny cam.”
Colleen Seto, mom of one

I started babysitting when I was 12, and it was both exhilarating and terri fying. Above all, I wanted to do a good job so that a) the kids were happy and safe, and b) their parents would keep hiring me, and I’d continue to have enough spending money for clothes. Turns out I was pret ty good at it — I babysat all the kids on my street for several years. If I had ever discovered one of the families was using a nanny cam to spy on me, I would have been mortified. Not because I did anything wrong, but because a nanny cam would have made me so nervous and self-conscious that I would have done a second-rate job watching the kids. I think it’s an invasion of privacy, and I probably wouldn’t have continued babysitting for any parents who felt they needed one.

Now that I’m a parent of a toddler, I understand why some parents think a nanny cam is a good idea: They want to ensure their children are being well cared for. I mean, what if the babysitter is feeding your kids junk food, letting them run wild, or, worst of all, actually abusing them? I completely sympathize with these anxieties, and I have them myself. But a nanny cam only o ffers a false sense of securi ty. After all, what are the chances you’ll catch the bad behaviour on tape, unless your whole home is wired with cameras? Someone planning to do something sketchy is likely to check for a nanny cam, anyhow.

If you’re feeling suspicious or unsure about your child’s caregiver, and feel the need for a nanny cam, perhaps there’s a deeper trust issue at play. That’s not something video footage will resolve.

Call me old-fashioned, heck, even naive, but I trust my gut over any hidden camera. Of course, I’d make all the necessary reference checks before hiring anyone to care for my daughter. If something doesn’t feel right when I meet with someone or introduce her to my kid, I pay heed to that. But, ultimately, I believe you need to have faith that your nanny or babysitter is a good person, taking good care of your kids. When it comes to the all-important task of choosing a caregiver for my child, I doubt that my intuition would fail me.

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