Babysitter Solutions: Sitter Surveillance

Forget who's watching the kids. Who's watching the babysitter?

First there was Big Brother. Now, there's Big Babysitter.

It's not unusual for parents to think about who is going to be watching the kids. But anyone watching the babysitting world lately will notice a dramatic shift from watching kids to watching babysitters and nannies. A rash of new and inventive ways to run surveillance on child-care workers has had the media buzzing. Read on to find out the latest surveillance tools in child care... and whether or not you need them.

iSawYourNanny
In an inventive twist, blogging has become one of the newest ways in which parents can keep an eye on their caretaker. Don't believe us? Head to iSawYourNanny.blogspot.com. An anonymous posting forum that invites parents to leave feedback about their travails, iSawYourNanny is filled with countless stories of witnessed nanny abuse, neglect or (very) occasional good deeds. Parents can log in to their home state's forum to read comments and speculate on the thousand-to-one chance that the nanny in the blue sweater glimpsed hitting the kids could be theirs.

Is iSawYourNanny controversial? You bet. In the months since it has appeared, it has been featured on MSNBC, Cookie magazine, CBS, The New York Times and countless other press sources.

Is it effective? The answer to that is less clear. As a surveillance tool, iSawYourNanny has some severe drawbacks. First, there is a minuscule chance that a parent reading the blog will happen upon a mention of his or her caregiver. Second, while there are some legitimate nanny complaints in the blog, most of the postings appear to be petty flame wars or opinion-driven monologues, as in the case of the mother who posted a warning that she had seen a nanny giving the kids Dr. Pepper. Finally, there is no verification of the truth of any of the postings on iSawYourNanny, which means that slander or false postings could easily exist on the site. Although it's a highly entertaining online forum, readers should know it for what it is: a major study into the child-care fears of today's parent, with a minor focus on surveillance.

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