It’s every parent’s nanny nightmare: you trust someone to care for your kids while you’re away, only to wonder whether or not your instructions are being carried out properly.
Here’s the thing. As a homeowner or parent, you have the right to know what’s going on behind your back. Unfortunately, this could land you in some hot water if you don’t approach the idea properly. We’re talking about nanny cams, here. Yes, those small, hidden cameras that are meant to offer some security when you leave your child with a nanny or babysitter. Sure, they can help capture bad behavior on tape, but are they even legal?
The answer is yes. Hidden cameras in your own home or business are legal in all 50 states but only with certain precautions and parameters. You have the right to tape anyone in your home at anytime whether the camera is visible or hidden. Still, certain state laws prohibit audio recording without a person’s knowledge, so if you want to use a nanny cam in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington State, your hidden camera should be a video-only model or you’re breaking the law.
Just because nanny cameras are legal doesn’t mean they’re legal anywhere in your house to capture every movement. You can’t place a camera in any private area of the home, like the bathroom or a live-in nanny’s bedroom. That means that common living areas of the home are the best and most kosher places to set up a camera.
Think about it: if you really want to use a nanny cam to help monitor a babysitter’s or nanny’s behavior, which areas of the home would net you the truest footage? In most cases, highly frequented places like the kitchen, playroom or living room are your best bets. There, you’ll be able to capture what goes on in your home on a day-to-day basis. You can also stash nanny cams in other areas of your home, like your child’s bedroom or a downstairs den.
It’s also important to remember that nanny and hidden cameras typically don’t have great resolution, so you might not be getting the full picture when you watch playback. What looks like a violent act might be something much more innocent. In the end, it’s up to you to ensure that your nanny cams are placed where you’ll get the best footage possible, making sure that you’re following all hidden camera rules as they apply in your specific state.