When it comes to the safety of our children and home, nothing is too much trouble. But have you thought about whether using a video baby monitors is safe? In this article, I will discuss whether these monitors can cause harm to your children and whether they can be misused by others.
You may be aware that during 2010/11 there were reports of two deaths of infants from strangulation by the electrical cords of Summer Infant video baby monitors . In both cases this was caused by the camera being placed too close to the baby’s crib, one on top of the crib rail and the other on a changing table next to the crib. To avoid further tragic incidences, Summer Infant announced a voluntary recall so they could provide new product labeling and instructions. Now instructions clearly state that the camera should be placed at least three feet from the baby’s crib.
You really don’t have to place the camera right on top of your baby in order to see them clearly. Even with night vision you can see them from at least six feet away. Also many camera’s have a zoom function so you can see them at close range.
The other aspect to video baby monitor safety is lack of security. ABC News (2010) brought to the attention of parents the fact that their babies could be seen through a baby video monitor whilst driving around the neighborhood. All the parents were absolutely shocked that other people could see their baby in their cribs and felt very concerned that they had no warning that this could happen.
The news report questioned whether this could invite burglars as well as other unwanted attention. Whilst some people thought this was really good to know, others felt that this was an irresponsible piece of news reporting, bringing this to the attention of people that could misuse baby video monitors . Whatever you feel about this, the question of your child’s safety is or should be a huge concern for all parents thinking of buying one.
You may be asking how it’s possible for other people to see your baby in it’s crib? The first thing to know is how these monitors work. A baby monitor is essentially a radio transmitter on a fixed frequency of around 49MHz, 900MHz or 2.4GHz that sends a signal from the monitor to the receiver. A signal is received either through an analog or digital transmission. Analog has been around for a long time, but given the rise in wireless devices around it’s become harder to transmit and much more open to interference. Digital wireless on the other hand is much more reliable and less open to interference.
The problem is that many wireless electronic devices such as cordless phones, microwave ovens, radios, remote controlled devices, security video cameras, smart meters for electric energy and, of course, baby monitors all run on similar frequencies. So if you have neighbors who also have baby monitors running on the same frequency, then you will be open to interference. Usually video baby monitors come with more than one channel, so if you get interference then you can switch to another channel without interference, but this doesn’t guarantee security.
Unlike WiFi computers which you can password protect, most video baby monitors don’t have any security features. This means that the signal can easily be picked up by the receiver of anyone’s video monitor in your area. Obviously people can only see the signal whilst the transmitter is on. The problem is that many people with video monitors leave them on for 24 hours which could enable a burglar to determine whether someone is at home or not.
To ensure complete security then you should look for a model that offers frequency hopping and if possible, data encryption technology as it’s highly resistant to interference. A model that offers both is the Motorola MBP36 digital video baby monitor . Unfortunately having this sort of technology comes at a higher price, but if you want peace of mind then it’s worth considering.
So are video baby monitors safe? Video baby monitors are very safe as long as you read the instructions and place the camera at least three feet away from your baby’s crib. Transmission signals are open to interception so you need to make sure that you choose the right one for your circumstances.