[SURVEY] Would you spy on the sitter? 4 in 5 Americans say yes to nanny cams

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It’s normal for parents to struggle with trust when a babysitter comes to the home — our loved ones are our most prized possessions, after all. Nanny cams are one way to ease anxiety, since they allow parents to monitor from afar. Hidden cameras can also help catch a thief in the act, whether it be a nanny or other home-based employee.

Nanny horror stories and tragic headlines help justify the use of recording at home, yet secret cameras can still feel intrusive and creepy. Plus, there are videotaping laws to consider before you hit record.

We surveyed 1,500 Americans to see how they felt about nanny cams. Here’s what we found out:

  • 4 in 5 Americans would record a nanny or pet sitter inside their home (79%)
  • 38% would record a sitter without consent; 41% would notify the sitter of the cameras
  • 21% think it’s an invasion of privacy and would not record

We also dug into the state data around the legality of nanny cams. Keep reading to discover what’s legal in your state and how nanny cams may put money back in your wallet with your home insurance policy.

79% of Americans have no issue recording sitters in their home

While four in five Americans would record a nanny or pet sitter in their home, they’re split on whether they’d notify the employee in advance. Of our survey respondents, one in five felt that nanny cams are an invasion of privacy, even if the sitter knows about the camera use.

Trusted caregiver site Care.com recommends being upfront with a nanny about the camera. This allows you to prevent bad habits rather than catching them as they’re happening.

There are reasons to record without notice, of course. If you do suspect neglect or that your nanny is stealing, catching them on tape could help hold them legally responsible and harm their chances of being hired by another household.


Hidden camera laws by state: Can you record video and audio in your home?

Setting up security cameras in and around your home is legal in all 50 states, but recording audio isn’t allowed everywhere. If you’re hoping to catch someone saying something inappropriate, you can only legally record this audio in 38 states. This is due to the “one-party consent” statute, which is a law many states have adopted that allows audio recordings if one party is aware.

The other 12 U.S. states, including Florida and California, have laws stating that audio recordings aren’t allowed without the consent of every member. You also can’t record audio or video of nannies in rooms where privacy is expected, such as a bathroom or, for live-in nannies, their bedroom.


Releasing footage from your nanny cam to third parties is also not allowed unless for legal purposes. For example, in most states you can share the footage with a lawyer, an insurance company or the police, but you can’t hand it over to a marketing or advertising agency. 

How to safely install and run a nanny cam or other security device

In addition to the ethical questions around secret recording devices, there are also security risks to consider. Many nanny cams on the market are IoT (internet of things) devices, making it easy for you to check your livestream on your smart device from anywhere. This convenience comes with hacking risks, as malicious agents may attempt to invade the network.

Here’s how to keep your home and family safe:

  1. Register your nanny cam: When you buy your nanny cam, register it with the manufacturer. This will allow you to receive critical security updates.
  2. Turn off your device when you’re not using it: The longer your device stays online, the bigger the hacking risk. Prevent bad agents from trying to penetrate your security technology by powering off the device when it’s not in use.
  3. Maintain a secure Wi-Fi network at home: Most nanny cams will connect to the internet through your home Wi-Fi. To keep your Wi-Fi network secure, password protect your network and change the default password given to you by your Internet company.
  4. Practice good password hygiene: A secure password is one of the best ways to prevent security risks from becoming a reality. Whether it’s your home Wi-Fi network or camera’s mobile app login, you should change your security-related passwords every three months.
  5. Delete footage you no longer need: Help save space on the cloud and stop your footage from falling into the wrong hands by deleting unsuspicious footage.

Nanny cams aren’t the only home security devices that are hackable, either. Doorbell cameras and other smart home features are also at risk.


Remember that if your caregiver does discover a security camera hidden in the eye of a teddy bear, there’s always a chance they’ll walk out and you could lose a great employee in the process.

Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and read up on how to install a nanny cam securely, make sure to notify your home insurance company if you plan to hit play. This could save you money on your home insurance policy each month as most insurers provide discounts for security upgrades.




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Taylor CovingtonContent Researcher

An in-house qualitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collects, organizes, and analyzes data to shine a light on trends in the insurance industry and beyond. Taylor's data studies have been cited by Yahoo Finance, The Atlantic, MSN, PolicyAdvice, Fox Business, The Simple Dollar, Hippo Insurance, and Bloomberg.

In her hometown of Austin, Texas, she can be found reading at Half Price Books or eating the world's greatest pizza at Via 313.