Digital Day Care. Part 1

If you’re a working parent, you may miss out on many of your children’s cherished “firsts” — like the first purposeful smile, the infectious first giggle, and the first wobbly, unsure step. In a perfect world, workforce moms and dads would be in two places at once — on the job earning money and close enough to keep an eye on their kids in day care.

Now, with thousands of American day care centers wiring Web cams to their classrooms, working parents can look in on their children whenever they want. Internet video monitoring has become as much a part of the childcare industry as finger-painting and nap time, easing separation anxiety and offering parents a virtual window into their children’s world away from home.

“There’s a lot of awkwardness and genuine trauma involved with putting a child in day care,” says Nancy Copin, of Progressive Childcare Systems, a Birmingham, Ala.-based Internet video provider. “It’s only natural to want to know everything our children do, everything they experience. The cameras give parents that support when they can’t be there in person.”

What Is Digital Daycare?
Digital daycare is a fee-based service that enables parents to view a continuous stream of images (streaming video) of their children in childcare from any computer with Internet access. With a username, password and a few mouse clicks, parents are plugged into their little ones’ day in the time it takes to dial a phone number.

Web cams, placed in classrooms and common areas, including dining rooms, nap areas and playgrounds, are a practical way for parents to hold caregivers accountable while feeling more connected to their children.

Since digital day care was designed with busy parents in mind, there are no time-consuming downloads, special software or equipment. All parents need to do is log on. In case of a technical snag, most Internet video providers offer 24-hour, toll-free customer service.

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