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While every parent would love to completely trust the babysitter that looks after their kids, that is not always the case. The fact is, many parents do not personally know their kids’ nannies. You always tell your children not to talk to strangers; why hire someone to look after them without taking a few precautions? It is not to say that the babysitter is not trustworthy, but hiring a trusted friend or neighbor isn’t always possible. Are you one of those parents making the decision to invest in your children’s safety while you are away? If so, here are some questions you may have.

Are hidden nanny cams legal?

Video-only nanny cameras are legal in most if not all states. Multiple states do require that you record only in public areas, which could include living rooms, kitchens, hallways, and other places that people would generally not have an expectation of privacy. Bathrooms, the nanny’s bedroom, and other private spaces may be off-limits in certain states, as these are places people generally have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Your room and child’s room, however, are typically considered fine.

If your nanny cam records both audio and video, however, different laws apply. On the federal level, voice recording is legal as long as one of the parties knows they are being recorded. Otherwise, it is important you consider the laws in your state. A few states prohibit recording without consent of all parties being recorded, meaning that it isn’t illegal to voice record your babysitter, but it is illegal to do so without their consent or knowledge. If you live in any of these states as of 2019, you will definitely have to use video only cameras or tell your nanny they are being recorded:

  • California 
  • Delaware
  • Florida 
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada 
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington.

Other states may have laws covering recordings, and laws are continuously updated. While this should give you a pretty good idea of what is legal and what is not in your area, make sure to check your state’s laws.

Should I tell the nanny about the spy camera?

There are a number of pros and cons when it comes to telling your nanny that they are being videotaped. On the plus side, recording with consent is legal pretty much throughout the U.S., so you could avoid any potential legal issues. However, that is not the only benefit about telling the babysitter they are being recorded. If your nanny is aware their actions are being recorded, it could deter unwanted behavior. Humans in general are more likely to do the right thing and be more careful if they know their actions are being recorded, so this could help prevent anything bad from happening.

However, even if you do decide to go this route, it would be best to still have hidden cameras and to not tell the babysitter where exactly the camera is, or if you have multiple cameras don’t disclose all of the cameras’ locations. Otherwise, your cameras are rendered partially useless, as now the very person you wanted to monitor knows exactly how to get around it.

It might be better to not tell the nanny there are cameras. If they are someone you truly cannot trust, they might find a way around the cameras anyway, if they know about them. Then, if they are actually competent and worthy of trust, their knowing about the cameras could distract them from focusing their attention fully on your kids.

Where should I put the nanny cam?

The best nanny cams are covert cameras that meld seamlessly into the spaces your kids and their babysitter are most likely to be. Strategic locations could include the living room, kitchen, kids’ bedrooms, playrooms, patios, etc. You can buy specific covert cameras that will look natural in these places. Again, don’t place cameras in bathrooms or the nanny’s bedrooms, for legal purposes and to respect the nanny’s privacy in these areas.

What are the best kind of hidden cameras to use as nanny cams?

When looking at nanny cams, you will notice that they take the appearance of a number of different household items. Perhaps the image that first comes to mind when you think of “nanny cam” is a teddy bear with a camera installation. While this can make for a good covert camera and does look natural in a playroom or really anywhere in a house where children live, there are a number of other options as well.

Pen recorder cameras are extremely discreet and small, and will look natural in almost any room throughout a house. You can set them in a pen holder or leave them lying about in your chosen area. Other common household items that make for great covert cameras for your home include bluetooth speakers, power plug-ins, night lights, alarm clocks and more. Even cameras designed to be body-worn, such as these covert sunglasses, can be used as nanny cams if they are left casually lying around.

What features should I look for?

While you are deciding what you want your camera to appear as, you must also consider what features you want it to have. Nanny cams are big in the security market right now, but not all are created equal. When looking for the right camera for you and your children, you should consider features such as camera resolution, field of vision, WiFi remote viewing capabilities, night vision and battery life (or wall-powered capabilities). The rule of thumb is that higher camera resolution, longer range night vision, longer battery life and WiFi capabilities are all positives, but you often will have to balance them with one another. See an in-depth analysis of different capabilities here (LINK TO OTHER BLOG).

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