Nanny Cams--What to Know Before You Buy

Nanny cams are any kind of hidden surveillance camera, wired or wireless, used to check in on the house while the homeowner is away. You can find both black and white models (cheaper) and full color models. The price range can vary quite a bit based on quality and features, but you can find a basic color unit for around $100. You don't need to look for a surveillance camera that is marketed specifically as a nanny camera. The term "Nanny Cam" just refers to cameras that are used mainly to allow parents to keep an eye on their kids--and the childcare provider--while they are away. People, worried someone might steal from them while they are away, also use hidden cameras to keep an eye on maid services, repair people, and anyone else who might enter the home unaccompanied.

Some folks choose to use a hidden camera, so that visitors will not know of its existence. This can lead to feelings of deception or disgruntlement amongst childcare providers or those who offer their services on a regular basis. Polls and studies suggest care providers don't have a problem with parents video taping their interaction with the children, just that they want to be informed up front.

If you think about it from a home security standpoint, it makes more sense to be obvious about surveillance rather than using hidden cameras. For example, watching a video tape several hours after a thief has stolen something doesn't necessarily mean retrieving the item will be easy. On the other hand, a potential thief that knows there is a security camera will probably be deterred from taking anything. Also, due to the poor resolution of most of these tiny cameras (along with legal policies they change from city to city), nanny cam footage might not even be admissible as evidence in a court of law.

If you are determined to use a hidden camera, however, you'll be pleased to know that there is a wide variety of home surveillance cameras available today. Many can be purchased online for deep discounts compared to those found in specialty shops. Numerous types of wireless cameras are available and can be hidden just about anywhere in the house. They can be disguised in a plant, a stuffed animal, or behind knick knacks on a high shelf.

You may be wondering about the legality of using nanny cams. While using them in court as evidence isn't a sure thing, it is legal to use a hidden camera in your home anywhere in the US. Interestingly, there are states where it is illegal to record speech, however. These states are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Once you decide you're going to buy a nanny cam, you have the option of recording footage in the traditional way, to a VCR tape, or buying a more expensive digital system that lets you record to a computer's hard drive and can even show live footage via the Internet. You can log into a special secure web site and see your nanny cam's feed or have clips sent to your video-enabled cell phone at time intervals or when motion is detected. 

The Xcam2 Wireless Video Camera can be used as a nanny cam and is small enough for use as a hidden camera. Or browse Covert Video Surveillance Cameras at Smarthome.

Sources for this article: Using a Nanny Cam and Parent 2 Parent: Nanny Cams