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Watch out for the virtual eye in the sky

Watch out for the virtual eye in the sky

Are you being watched? Right now, depending on where you are reading this, it’s possible that you are in the view of video surveillance. 

Or are you watching someone at various times throughout the day? Do you check in on your child at daycare, your kids as they return from school, your elderly mom who lives on her own? How about your child’s nanny?

It’s possible to have your eyes virtually anywhere – on traffic, a nest of baby birds, or someone’s GoPro videos on YouTube. Why not see what’s happening with your children in your own home in the care of a nanny?

That is a question with which most of us struggle to find an answer, even if we aren’t in the situation of having a nanny at home. It’s an ethical question to some, and to others, a practical one with a simple answer or an offensive one with a definitive response. In this issue we explore the use of the “nanny cam” in the Toddler section. Should we be watching, should we let the nanny know that we are watching, should it be a condition of hire, should parents trust the nanny to behave appropriately when out of their sight? Why should the nanny have anything to hide?

When I faced the prospect of returning to work as the editor of a small-town newspaper when my son was nine months old, (This was before maternity leave was extended to one year.) I considered hiring a nanny. I laughed when I told people that I was having trouble accepting that anyone could properly diaper my beloved, let alone care for him. My plan was to have my mom drop in spontaneously on any given day to check up on the nanny. (I’m not sure my mom would have been a willing spy.) Or I might randomly leave work early and show up unannounced, or pop in on my way to a meeting. (There was no texting at that time and no cell phones.)

Rather than set up an elaborate nanny spy ring, I was able to take on a part-time editing position within the company, work from home and continue to care for my baby. If not, a video surveillance system just might have given me that much needed peace of mind. Really, we all would be much better behaved if we knew mama was watching.