Video Baby Monitors Let Strangers Look Inside Homes

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Do you use a video baby monitor? You could be letting strangers see - and hear - what's going on inside your home. This is frightening not only because you don't want other people peeking at your child, but also because you may be giving burglars information that could help them break into your house.

The Today Show produced a segment in which the crew drove through a Long Island neighborhood with a baby monitor. As they drove up and down the streets, they could see into many cribs in the houses they passed. They could also hear audio. The baby monitor they used wasn't an especially fancy one - it was a $99 video monitor.

Many baby monitors on the market only have four channels, and broadcast on a simple frequency - 2.4 gigahertz. Many cheaper monitors don't have a digital lock, so anyone can tune in. Their signals are powerful - they can broadcast hundreds of feet. Burglars or pedophiles could potentially watch and listen in, gathering information about when you'll be out of the house, or when the baby is alone in a room.

How do you ensure your baby monitor's secure? Make sure you turn off both the receiver and the camera when you're not using the monitor, so that you're not broadcasting information without being aware of it. Set the camera so it's not on a wide shot: show as little of your baby's room as possible in the shot. If you can buy a new monitor, get one with a digital lock, or look for a security guarantee on the box.