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A guest post by my brother, Tim Hoffman & my sister- in-law, Jill Hoffman (parents and teachers with advanced degrees in education):
Monitors are necessary to keep up with the safety of your child; however, it probably isn’t nessesary for our older children. We use it to see if they are in their bed, but we don’t need to do this. We need to use caution with how it is used.
Some early morning shows are reporting that hackers are accessing baby monitors that are wireless. Other people are watching your baby on the monitor. An experienced hacker can gain access into your life, your child’s room and watch your life as it unfolds. They can get your baby’s name, see access points to gain entry to your child’s room, they can tell whether it is a one or two parent household, they can see routines of the household (nap times, bedtimes) and more. In some cases, they can even talk through the monitor to your child.
This is with all baby monitors. If the camera and reciever are not attached, it is being transmitted wirelessly.
Here are some steps to ensure your family’s safety.
1- Do not leave it on all day. If the camera portion is plugged in, someone can gain access to it and see what is going on. Even if just the camera side is plugged in, they can watch you. If you are talking about going away, they are hearing this. If you are saying things like “Go to bed. Tomorrow you are going to the zoo with Grandma!”? – your hacker has just found out exactly what you will be doing. If you are saying goodnight, they can hear you. UNPLUG IT IF IT IS NOT BEING USED. Turning it off on the video screen portion is not enough.
2- Position the camera so that only the bed is in view. Try not to let the camera see the name over the bed. Try to not let them pick up on any identifying things in the room. For instance, if you have a window that is even the slightest bit in view, they can see this. If you have a light plugged in, in front of a window, they can see this and pick out the room from the outside (the room with the light on).
3- Put it on a switch, so that it is tied into an outlet so that you can turn it off when it is not in use.
4- Be cognizant of the conversations that you are having in the room. Understand that even if you are a significant ways away from the camera, it can be picking up on your conversations.
5. Check the range of your monitor. How far does it read? Could someone be sitting a few houses away, but listening, watching and studying your family.
6- TURN IT OFF before you go on a trip! Someone could see that your child has not been in bed for several days and will realize that you are away.
Thank you to Jill & Tim for sharing this with us! It is so important.
My husband and I actually saw our three year old neighbor on a monitor. We could see everything that they were doing, from playing peek-a-boo, to kissing her goodnight. We got a new monitor that same day, knowing that chances are that they could see our child, as well.
Be safe and be aware. Keep your children protected by doing taking extra cautions.