Crib note: Smile kids, you're on candid camera

Hey kids, smile and wave – Big Brother’s watching you. Okay, not Big Brother exactly, but Big Mommy and Big Daddy are, thanks to your day care’s webcam. Although they’ve existed for years, day care webcams are becoming increasingly common -- forcing parents to decide whether to log in or tune out. Yes, they offer a sense of security and yes, they give lonesome parents the chance to catch a glimpse of their cute babies during the work day, but are they good for anyone? Two working moms at The Globe and Mail newspaper recently debated this point.

What working parent hasn’t, at some point, wondered longingly what their little one is doing at that very moment? With a webcam, you don’t have to wonder. You can hop online, find out what they’re up to when you miss them and get your fix. It’s a delicious chance to ease some of the separation anxiety (yours, not the child's). Except, what happens when addiction sets in and, like any addict, you start needing your fixes more and more often? Does productivity go out the window, every time you open a new window in your browser? You (or your boss) may wonder what the point of working is, if you’re going to spend the whole day online watching your kiddo at day care. As Melissa Henriquez at Babble found out., this reassuring tool can become an obsession.

Do webcams undermine the trust in our relationships with our day care providers? How do caregivers feel about being on candid camera all the live-long day? One day care provider said she’d be embarrassed being her silly self with the kids if she knew grown-ups were watching, and wouldn't that be sad for the kids? Tralee Pearce at The Globe and Mail writes:

Leaning on webcams leaves everyone in an uneasy purgatory. Parents risk having one foot in work, one in daycare, perpetually torn. Caregivers may behave in a way they think is best for the parents behind the cameras, not the children. As for the kids, we’ll have to wait and see what effects constant digital surveillance has on a child. Parent-teacher nights were more than sufficient stress when I was a kid..

Bottom line, if you’re tuning in because you lack trust in your childcare provider, maybe a webcam isn’t the solution. Maybe you just need to find somewhere where you feel more comfortable. They always tell us to trust our gut, and if our guts are tied up knots, maybe that’s a better sign than any video footage that something’s amiss.

Does your child’s daycare offer webcam viewing? Do you love it, or do you choose to leave it?

Dana Macario is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. If she worked in an office, she'd undoubtedly be sucked into the webcam, but never for more than three or four hours a day, tops.