The Disadvantages of Daycare Surveillance

By Eliza Martinez
Day care cameras let you see what your little one is doing during her day.
Day care cameras let you see what your little one is doing during her day.

It's probably heartbreaking to walk away from your crying toddler when it's time to go to work. Finding a day care center that has cameras enables you to watch your little one play and learn while you wipe a bittersweet tear at your desk. Despite the benefits of surveillance, which go beyond seeing your sweet toddler's face on your lunch break, there are disadvantages to such a system, too.

Relationship Tension

Yes, getting to take a peek at your toddler while she's painting or running around the room like an airplane is an entertaining way to brighten your work day, but caregivers might feel like you are checking in on them throughout the day. Feeling watched and even scrutinized can put a strain on your relationship, especially if you show up at pick-up and question how a tantrum was handled or why no one noticed your toddler throwing away her lunch without eating it. Checking in is great, but using the system to nitpick your child's care can compromise the ease and trust in the parent-caregiver relationship.

Legal Issues

In most states, recording audio with video surveillance is only allowed by police. Consent is required to tape with sound, according to Jordan Scott of Desmond, Strang and Scott, LLP. While you can watch your little one play, eat and take a nap, you won't be able to hear what is being said. So you can see another child being reprimanded for slapping your toddler, but you won't be able to hear what a caregiver is saying. While it's probably the exception rather than the norm, you'd be missing out on the tone of voice and wording a caregiver uses to discipline a child.


You think it's wonderful that you can tune in and watch your toddler listen to a story or build a block tower, but you probably don't want other people watching. Most day care centers require a parent to input a password to watch the goings on at the center. This doesn't mean that another parent isn't sharing her password with family and friends, letting just about anyone watch the day care activities. If a parent logs in at work or the library and forgets to log out, anyone could be watching your toddler, including a child predator. If you don't want people you don't know watching your little one, a day care with video surveillance isn't an ideal option for you.

Unseen Areas

Cameras at day care are ideal for detecting abuse or neglect, but not all areas of the center are video taped. Bathrooms and changing tables are almost always off limits, and the cameras might not reach the far corners of each room and hallway. The caregivers at the day care are probably well aware of where they are monitored and where they aren't seen by parents at work. If a day care provider is going to sexually, physically or emotionally harm your little one, she probably knows where she can get away with it. Cameras offer huge peace of mind to parents, but it's important to keep tabs on the center in other ways by dropping in occasionally and taking any accusations by children or other parents very seriously.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.