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I know how silly it sounds, but it makes me feel better: I'm asking for a friend. (We've decided we don't need one, as our nanny appears to be far more capable than we - it might make more sense for her to film us.)

I'm not interested in legal concerns - we know our friend has the right to record video in his home without disclosure (at least in areas without an expectation of privacy for a visitor, like bathrooms, obviously).

It seems like videotaping someone trusted to care for your kids is reasonable in some circumstances - you want to be in position with enough trust that you don't need to (and we are lucky to be), but realistically, can everyone expect to get enough in an interview and from references to be sure of what happens when they're away?

The question is this:

How do you deal with the notion of creating a video, essentially to test trustworthiness, without risking violating reasonable expectations of trust/privacy yourself?

It seems like taping a room without disclosing it means that you might capture things that really shouldn't be exposed. Someone changing clothes, after your kid pukes on them, a private phone call during a nap, etc?

What are best practices here?

Note: I'm well aware that we have a philosophy site, but this particular question would seem to have much more personal experience in a parenting community.

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I don't think there's an easy answer. Trust has to be built up from a solid relationship with the nanny. –  Dan Mar 21 at 17:50
    
I think that your location (country, perhaps state) have influence on the answer. –  woliveirajr Mar 21 at 19:00
    
@woliveirajr, do you mean legally? I know the facts from a legal perspective. I'm interested in the ethical aspects, which only seem location specific if there are different social norms? –  Jaydles Mar 21 at 19:10
    
@Jaydles No, I wasn't thinking about legally, although that has impact too. I was thinking on the cultural aspect of it, since diff. countries/states/cities/religions/ethnics have some role on social norms. –  woliveirajr Mar 21 at 19:15
    
I'd just not do it. If you don't trust the nanny without a cam, find a different nanny. –  Robert Mar 28 at 21:30

2 Answers 2

I think, legal issues aside, that you should tell the nanny. Not because of privacy issues, but because it is more effective as a deterrent of undesired activities if it's in the open than if it's secret.

You don't necessarily have to state it upfront as 'We want to watch you', however; you can put it as "We want to be able to see our kids from time to time and see what they are up to". That's reasonable - a lot of daycares have 'cribcams' for their cribs so parents can watch their infants sleep, after all - and still has some deterrent effect.

This also depends somewhat on the nanny herself/himself. If you have a nanny who is very young, this is not only a good idea but unlikely to be too big of a deal, as long as she/he has some idea that such a thing is possible and not that uncommon. However, if you have a very experienced nanny, it may strike her/him as insulting or demeaning - particularly in cases like your own example, where the nanny is clearly more experienced than the parent.

You also should consider the reason you want this. Is this to make sure the nanny is engaging your children and getting along? Is it to make sure she's not harming them physically? Are you worried about her having excessive phone/TV/whatever time? Some of these are reasonably controllable; some are not.

If you have a camera in the living room, say, where the kids spend most of their time, you can see them playing and doing learning activities/etc. You might see how much TV they're watching if that's in view. You can't, however, reasonably expect to be able to prevent intentional child abuse; that's too easy to take off camera, whether it's known or not.

I would expect it to be helpful in some ways, primarily to watch to see how the kids get along with the nanny, and less helpful in truly supervisory aspects as those will be easier to avoid oversight. Realistically you can find out most of this through other means - spending the occasional day working from home or taking off to relax but being around the nanny and the kids, talking to your kids, etc. A friend of mine who is a nanny regularly posts on facebook (at the parent's request and permission) what they're doing and pictures so they can follow along and know their daughter is getting the most out of her day. These sorts of things will be more helpful, in the long term, than a camera; but of course if it is necessary to comfort the parent, that's up to them.

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I would inform said nanny first. Like Joe said, it would act as a deterrent. Deterring or attempting to prevent a bad action by the nanny is much better than having to clean up any mess she might make with the children or the house, be it emotional distress on the children's part or an actual filthy mess in the house. While people desire everyone to have integrity, most people will always do right when they know they are being watched.

If perhaps they are uncomfortable with informing the nanny, they could reverse the reasoning for the recording. Tell the nanny that the camera is there to ensure the children are being on their best behavior. Tell the nanny that it is in her best interest so if the children do get out of control, your friends can correct the issue so the nanny would no longer have discipline problems.

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