Whether your child is six weeks old or three years, the first time you drop them at daycare is sure to be an emotional experience.
Even once your child is settled into a routine, you’ll probably find yourself wondering what they’re up to throughout your day at work.
When you leave your child at daycare you’re basically trusting their wellbeing and happiness to a group of strangers.
So, it’s only natural to seek reassurance that your precious little one is happy in your absence — and to wonder: Do daycares have cameras?
To attempt to ease parents’ worries, many daycare centers have installed surveillance cameras. These record a live video that parents can log in and view throughout the day.
While daycare cameras can seem like a great idea at first, there are also some drawbacks to being able to view what your child is doing at daycare as and when you want – not least the fact that it can be very distracting when you should be working!
In this article, we’ll discuss how cameras are used in daycare centers, and go over the pros and cons to help you decide whether a daycare with cameras is something that you should be looking out for.
Do daycares have cameras?
Some daycare centers and preschools have cameras, but not all.
Some cameras provide a live stream so that parents can view what their child is doing in real-time. Others are simply CCTV cameras, recording video that can only be accessed by the daycare management.
The following daycare chains are a few that have been confirmed to have live cameras at most locations:
There are various types of daycare cameras — different ways that parents can access the footage from daycare cameras and the options vary depending on the center.
These may include:
- Website – Parents can log on to the daycare website on their laptop and see a live feed from the cameras
- Mobile app – Parents install a third-party app (such as Tadpoles) on their mobile phone and log in to view the live feed
- Email – Some daycares send pictures and videos taken throughout the day
Oftentimes, the live stream from daycare cameras isn’t recorded – you can only view the footage as it happens.
Conversely, if a daycare has CCTV security cameras that save a recording, this footage may not be available for parents to access.
Due to the technology involved, it’s very rare for cameras to provide both live streaming and recording, although some daycares have both types.
Pros and cons of daycare cameras
The idea of having daycare cameras is certainly appealing for many parents.
But do these actually help with parental anxiety, or can they actually make it worse? In this section, we’ll look at all the pros and cons of having cameras at daycare.
Daycare cameras can protect children
We’ve all heard horror stories such as the child who escaped from daycare and was found wandering along a busy highway.
While most daycare safety and security incidents are minor in comparison, cameras can help to determine exactly how and why incidents happen so that they can be prevented from happening again.
Cameras can also act as a deterrent, preventing staff members, parents, or even rogue outsiders from doing things that they should not be doing.
Daycare cameras can make daycare staff do a better job
The thought that parents may be watching at any moment can make daycare staff up their game.
Looking after one child is hard, let alone twenty. Knowing that everything is on video can give daycare staff encouragement to be on their best behavior, even if they’re having a bad day.
They simply can’t sit the kids in front of the TV and take an unplanned break if Big Brother is watching.
In one appalling incident, racist daycare workers were caught on camera feeding white kids before black kids.
If it weren’t for the cameras, they would have gotten away with it. Any daycare workers who don’t put kids’ needs first are unlikely to last long on the job.
Daycare cameras can reduce anxiety
When your child is new to daycare, there’s a reason why the teachers will say ‘feel free to phone us at any point in the day’.
Communication can reduce anxiety.
Instead of sitting at your desk wondering if your child is okay or not, if you have access to live cameras, you can check in as and when you feel like you need to put your mind at rest.
Daycare cameras can make anxiety worse
Young children cry multiple times per day. That’s normal.
There are also times where they may prefer to sit in a corner alone, watching the other kids without joining in.
If an already anxious parent logs in to the camera system to find their child alone or tearful, their worries can suddenly balloon.
They may perceive their child to be lonely, sad, or abandoned. When in reality, that’s not the case.
Cameras can encourage micro-managing
It’s important that parents trust daycare staff to do the jobs that they’ve been trained to do.
When parents can see every little thing that happens, it can damage the relationship between parents and caregivers.
Issues that should be tiny, such as a toddler eating toast that’s fallen on the floor, can become blown out of proportion if parents are watching, taking notes, and getting worked up about it before they arrive to pick up their child.
Rather than focus on the kids, daycare workers may have to spend more time answering the phone to parents making an endless stream of ad-hoc requests.
You’ll probably have to pay extra to view the cameras
Daycares have to pay to have cameras installed and also to use video streaming apps – and it’s only natural that these costs are passed on to parents.
The cameras alone can cost upwards of $4000 then there are monthly fees which can be anywhere from $3 to $49 per user, per month.
Even if you aren’t directly charged a monthly fee to access the live camera footage, if you choose a daycare with cameras installed then some of your tuition fees will undoubtedly be going towards having the cameras there anyway.
If your child is injured, cameras don’t always help
If your child comes home with a bump or a bruise, having camera footage won’t help you to know what happened if it’s not recorded.
Even if the daycare does save surveillance tapes, they don’t have to provide the footage to parents on request: they can simply refuse.
In that case, without a subpoena, there’s nothing a parent can do.
You never know who’s else may be watching your child
Live stream video can have privacy issues.
Parents are given a username and password to log in to the camera system, but there’s no way of preventing them from sharing those details with others.
You have to consider that as well as other parents, their extended family members could also be watching your kids.
While the online security technology is usually tight, cameras are connected to wi-fi, so there are no guarantees that sick hackers can’t get access and share footage on the internet.
(Baby monitors sometimes have the same problem.)
While daycare cameras are becoming more popular, they aren’t a new thing.
In fact, some daycares have been using cameras that parents could watch over the internet since the 1990s.
So, should you look for a daycare that has cameras? Or is this something that you should actively avoid?
Well, that depends on how you feel about them.
If you think that you’ll benefit from watching the cameras, then, by all means, sign yourself up.
But, if you worry that surveillance cameras may do more harm than good, you’d be better to go for a daycare that doesn’t have cameras, or perhaps just has CCTV cameras that don’t offer a streaming service.
Instead of relying on cameras, you can always stop by for an impromptu visit.
Most daycares should welcome parents at any time throughout the day.
While you may not be able to go inside the classroom, you should always be able to turn up unannounced and peep through the window or door if it puts your mind at ease!
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Hope this helps!