BIG MOTHER IS WATCHING YOU
Published on 12 April 2007, Evening Standard, by Katharine Barney

Thousands of London parents are monitoring their children at nursery by webcam.

More than 100 nurseries have installed the cameras so parents can watch their offspring while they are at work.

The equipment lets parents log on to the nursery's website so they can view their son or daughter at play.

The boom comes in the wake of a report warning that nurseries and daycare groups are creating "anti-social" children. Oxford University researchers found toddlers become more disruptive the longer they attend, particularly if it is for more than 35 hours a week.

The study, funded by the Department for Education and Skills, reignited the debate over whether young children are better off being looked after at home.

The nursery webcams are largely aimed at new mothers who want to resume their career but feel anxious about leaving their child at a young age.

Nurseries with the system can charge a premium of up to 25pounds a week, with a typical parent paying 175pounds for a week of full-time care for their four-year-old, compared to 150pounds at an ordinary establishment.

Melissa Kao, founder of Nurserycam, said: "By enabling parents to view live images of their child at play via the internet from wherever they are, they can see for themselves that their child is fine and the nursery is doing a fantastic job.

"The webcam helps to increase parents' understanding and awareness of their children's development.

"Simply put, it provides parents with a means to be involved in their child's daily achievements and share to some degree in their milestones."