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Should Cameras Be Used in Daycare?

They’re everywhere. They’re on houses, in stores, on television sets and even in toys. In fact the device you’re reading this on probably has one or two of them pointed at you right now!


That’s right - we are talking about cameras. With the invention of high fidelity miniature cameras combined with cheap high throughput data transmission we get a world in which cameras are ubiquitous and video is just a fact of life.


Not surprisingly your humble local daycare has not been spared from this phenomenon.


But are cameras a double-edged sword? Admittedly, livestreaming daycare classes can promote safety, security, and peace of mind. But at what cost?



Why Use Cameras in Daycare?


Livestreaming daycare classes is far from the norm at this point. That said, CCTV footage and other software have undeniably begun to make their mark on the daycare industry. More and more classrooms are installing video cameras so parents can log on and view a live feed of their children from anywhere at all.


What are the perceived benefits of this?


1. Video surveillance allows daycare centers to keep track of everyone who enters and exits the building. From the classroom to the front door, cameras are an effective way to monitor all those who comes in contact with the kids. They can also help pinpoint what time specific interactions take place.


2. If a child misbehaves, gets injured, or experiences any other type of incident, video surveillance can help administrators figure out what happened. This is particularly useful in situations where the teacher had their back turned, or where they didn’t get a full picture of the incident for another reason.


3. Some parents believe video surveillance promotes teacher accountability. The idea is that if instructors know they’re being filmed, they’ll be on their best behavior during the day. And if for whatever reason there’s an issue—say, a teacher leaves children unsupervised for more than a minute or two—there will be careful record of what happened on video.


4. Finally, many parents appreciate being able to check up on their kids in just a few clicks. Whether they’re at work, running errands, or focusing on other tasks, there’s a sense of familiarity—of perceived control—that might put them at ease. This is especially relevant to parents who are leaving their children in others’ care for the first time.


Ultimately, the idea of installing cameras in daycare centers involves more than just parents and their input. Teachers and even children are affected as well (and not always in a positive way).



Why Avoid Livestreaming Daycare Classes?


At Easel we visit childcare centers all the time and one thing we’ve noticed is that many of the top daycares don’t have live video feeds of their classrooms. Why is that?


This is at least in part due to the fact that older, well-reputed centers haven’t updated their technology yet but that explanation doesn’t hold for some of the newer top daycares. On the contrary some directors of top centers don’t think livestreaming daycare is a good idea.


Here are the reasons daycare facilities might keep cameras away from their classrooms:


1. Privacy is paramount and some believe they are invasive. Even young children might take issue with the idea of being filmed, and teachers may feel uncomfortable or stifled as a result of being on display.


2. People in general tend to change their behavior when they’re being observed. Daycare instructors might grow anxious, struggle to get through their lessons, or miss key events. At the opposite end of the spectrum, parents might misinterpret certain situations because they don’t have the context to understand what truly happened via livestream.


3. More involved parents—when given constant access to their kids—risk spending too much time watching their children on camera. Focusing on every little thing the child does could result in unneeded worry. Also, some daycare centers believe livestreaming their classes is an open invitation for parents to call in during the day. This could lead to micromanagement and other issues.


4. While this isn’t always the case, there are times when cameras provide a false sense of security. Blind spots are simply unavoidable, yet the presence of CCTV footage might make administrators believe they’re in a safe and secure environment. In addition, with cameras around, some centers might not screen new hires to the extent that they would otherwise because they think the camera will make up for poor hiring (it doesn’t).


Another key consideration is whether parents truly benefit from having access to every minute of their child’s day. A healthy sense of separation promotes good parent-child communication. For instance, parents who don’t watch their kids at daycare are probably more likely to ask their children meaningful questions at pickup.



Cameras in Daycare: The Verdict


Video is part and parcel of the modern era. Cameras can help cultivate an environment of trust and safety, and many administrators and parents are onboard with the idea of livestreaming their kids’ daycare classes.


Others aren’t quite so sure the positives outweigh the negatives.


But the situation isn’t black and white. And the solution might lie somewhere in between constant filming and keeping cameras at bay. Maybe daycare centers can livestream a specific part of the day, and parents can check in at the scheduled time. Or, more facilities can keep security cameras at the front door, but not necessarily in their classrooms.


In closing, it’s all a matter of choice. Daycare facilities have the right to decide whether they want to use cameras in their classrooms. Parents, meanwhile, can choose whether to enroll their kids in a center that livestreams its classes.



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