Are video baby monitors safe?

Although I am a big proponent of video monitors, i’m not going to lie to you and say they they are completely safe. Otherwise I would be lying. This article itself outlines all of the potential dangers that you’ve heard on the news and hopefully how you can prevent them and choose the right option.

Are video baby monitors safe? Well of course they are, right? That’s what I was thinking going into this topic, why else would people have them in the rooms of their children, in millions of households around the world? What could possibly be unsafe about a simple monitor and receiver setup? Suffice it to say that the answer to this question was a little more shocking than I first anticipated. While the majority of risks reported have had to do with wiring and electronic malfunctions, some of the problems related to poor security and radiation are still under investigation. I would like to point out just a few of the risks you should be aware of before purchasing a video baby monitor.

Let’s start off with one of the more controversial items on the list, EMF radiation.

While many companies, usually ones with a vested interest in the technology, claim that all consumer microwave transmission technology is well regulated and controlled, there is an alarming number of groups coming forward with test results that are saying the exact opposite. From chronic headaches to increases in cancer risks, people are still trying to get the truth about wireless technology and what possible harm it could do. The biggest community of denouncers claim that exposing children so young, and with unfinished cranial development exponentially increasing the risk, is akin to placing your crib 150 meters away from a cell phone tower.

For years we have been seeing the controversy on the news, in social networking sites, and multiple public forums. One really needs to ask that if the technology is so safe, why not simply debunk the protesters with documented evidence and be done with it. As it sits, the documented evidence is still not that convincing, and as some would have you believe, possibly falsified. So do you want to take a chance on the health and development of your child? If you did, you wouldn’t be looking into getting a monitor in the first place, so relax, there are options. By moving to a hard wired unit, you not only remove the radiation completely, but you improve the overall security as well, and as luck would have it, security is our next point of contention.

If you have even searched once on Google for safety issues connected to video baby monitors, you would realize that people hacking the system is one of the scariest problems. Several of the first monitors released with a wireless option didn’t consider the range of the monitor to be an issue, as a matter of fact; they sold a lot of models based on the long range option. What they didn’t realize is, that long range + low security = unwanted attention. People were suddenly finding themselves watching neighbors in the children’s bedrooms on their tv with rabbit ears.

Their own monitors were picking up houses 2 or even 3 buildings down the road, and apartments were getting so many crossovers that the signals were almost useless. While there are wireless options to narrow the bandwidth and insure better security, the only fool proof way is to once again go hard wired. What quickly became worse than a neighbor seeing your child sleep, was criminals figuring out if you were home based on the signal from the cam that was reaching them in vehicles parked down the road. People spending time with RF monitoring software purposely hacking from other buildings, or vehicles in parking lots spying on people in their homes, recording feeds of mothers breast feeding, and knowing when it was safe to enter their home and when everyone was asleep became a huge issue when some instances of serious crimes happening reached the news. People quickly started getting informed, and learning how to protect themselves, but then they made things worse.

There are people all over the world who need to travel and spend a large portion of time away from their children. These people were so excited by the newest video baby monitor addition, and being able to communicate via 2 way internet connection from their phone or laptop, nobody thought to ask about security again. Then suddenly picture started showing up online. Screenshots of peoples children and more were making their way onto the internet, with highly detailed guides on how to hack into the webcam stream and watch other people’s homes from anywhere in the world. While several of the monitor companies were quick to supply patches and fixes, it seemed as they were only playing catch-up and the bad guys kept staying a couple of steps ahead. Once again, the hard wired, in home only option seems to be the safest way to go.

While it seems to be a biased article so far, let me reassure you that even hard wired systems have their problems, and researching what you purchase is hugely important. A few of the issues transfer across all types and while aren’t security issues, are definitely something to be aware of.

Battery failure and fire is a huge problem with some of the more portable units. Having the battery as a backup, even the rechargeable ones, can lead to battery failure such as acid leaks, fire and in severe circumstance explosions, but keeping the batteries out of the monitor is a great way to alleviate this issue. While on the subject of batteries, a small group has also reported battery covers falling off the monitor and babies having swallowed the batteries, leading to poisoning and intestinal burns in the worst cases. Simply removing the batteries, or securing them with a screw or some tape, can go a long way to preventing this sort of issue.

Overheating that leads to meltdowns, burning plastic fumes, electrocutions and fires, volume increases causing hearing damage, and poor mounts allowing monitors to fall on the child are just a few of the other things to keep an eye out for. But when it comes to purchasing hardware for the protection of your loved one, just do your research, spend the money to get the safest one possible, and make sure you keep up on maintenance. This will minimize any of the safety concerns you might have.

The last step in insuring your monitor safety, may be the best one, and should be checked regularly for updates. The Better Business Bureau maintains a great data base of problems and solutions for different consumer electronics, and can let you know which ones are recalled and why.