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Busting Mary Poppins

Spying on the babysitter has never been easier.

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N annies, beware: Ever-more-extreme nanny-surveillance tactics are taking over the city—even without The View’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s skulking around your playground and describing nanny misbehavior on national TV. All of which is tempting for control-freak parents, but aggressive paranoia could backfire, warns Carol Solomon, director of the New York Nanny Center: “You have to model the way you want her to be with you on your own actions. How would you feel if you had a camera at your desk?”

The Teddy-Bear Nanny Cam
Uses an invisible pinhole camera that records every movement of your nanny. More-expensive ones have night vision.
Cost: $100 to $450.
The sell: Of U.S. households with at least one child, 39 percent expressed an interest in using a nanny cam in 2004, up from 19 percent in 2002.
Paranoia factor: Gets the job done at home, but Teddy doesn’t play in the park.

ISawYourNanny.blogspot.com
Anonymous postings of bad nanny behavior.
Cost: Hours of your time.
The sell: Here’s a sample post: “The nanny sits on a bench and eats her bagel and gabs on her cell phone. It bothers me that when she is on the phone, she shakes the stroller and says ‘No, no, no, no, no’ when one of them starts crying. Quite honestly, I wonder why you would hire someone like her to take care of your children because she seems so disconnected from them, nothing about her says ‘care.’ Your children are in an expensive stroller; why don’t you focus some of that money on their proper care?”
Paranoia factor: You might think a daily inspection of the site will assuage your fears, but the examples listed will only add to them.

New York Nanny Cam Company
Motion-sensitive “Home Cams” installed around your home send streaming video to your own password-protected Website.
Cost: $1,200.
The sell: “It’s more about ‘What are the kids doing?’ than ‘What’s the bitch up to?,’ ” says Rhyder McClure, the company’s founder. “Instead of calling home, you just log in. I’d say about 20 percent of the cameras we put in, the nanny is fired the next day.”
Paranoia factor: McClure uses the phrase “Home Cams” to detach them from Big Brother connotations, and admittedly, the cameras keep an eye out for burglars as well.

Whereismybaby.com
An ex-NYPD captain and a former Army attorney do background checks, install a GPS in your diaper bag, and stake out playgrounds and parks to keep tabs on your nanny.
Cost: $250 a week for GPS; $75 to $100 an hour for live surveillance.
The sell: “Satisfy your natural and justified curiosity and suspicions without unnecessarily damaging your family’s relationship with your caregiver.”
Paranoia factor: Well, you can’t hire the NSA.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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