As a parent, you probably already heard some concerning discussions around the safety of baby monitors. More specifically, there are two primary sources of concerns – the potential hacking of your baby monitor and secondly, the harmful effects of electromagnetic exposure. Here’s a short description of what they are and how to protect your baby.
Most of us have heard of hackers controlling baby monitors at night and using inappropriate language – that is completely alarming — your baby might not be safe in their own room! This depends on the type of baby monitor you use. Firstly, there are radio monitors that use a specific frequency; they can be hacked if the hacker is in the near surroundings of the baby monitor and knows the precise frequency. Thus, it is doubtful that your radio monitor will get hacked. In addition, most models add extra protection in the form of encrypted channels.
Wi-Fi baby monitors have higher risks of being hacked. There can be two connections: either on a private network or via internet access. If you use only your private network to send and receive signals from the baby monitor when you are in the perimeter of your own router, the hacker needs access to it (and everything that uses your Wi-Fi). The good news is that modern routers use NAT, Network Address Translation, which keeps away unauthorized traffic. It also comes with good default settings, such as disabled remote access (remote setup/allow setup over WAN on router admin page). Make sure this and NAT are on, in case someone might have disabled them in the past.
If your baby monitor is connected to the internet, which occurs, for instance, when you can watch your baby even when you are away from home, the story is a bit different. Streaming over the internet opens the door to hackers, and it is the least safe option, which is not recommended.
How to Keep Your Baby Safe
Firstly, choose a radio monitor or a private network monitor. Make sure your router firmware is updated, the remote access is disabled and have a good and strong Wi-Fi password. For the baby monitor, make sure you register the product online with the manufacturer so that you can receive software updates that might fix potential glitches. Replace the default login credentials with new ones and check if there is any DDNS option, which should be disabled. (DDNS stands for Dynamic Domain Name System.) Disable the remote access on your baby monitor and check whether you have port forwarding or UPnP, which should also be disabled.
If you really need a baby monitor connected over the internet, which is not recommended, you can still do a few things to keep your baby safe. Your default camera access port should currently be 80; change it to anything over 8,200. Also, check your monitor logs for suspicious activity, such as IP addresses or access times.
Exposure to Radiation
All baby monitors send their data through frequencies – different baby monitors use different ranges of such frequencies. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that all ranges of radio frequencies can potentially cause cancer.
Some brand-new baby monitors use FHSS or DECT technology. They make use of the same electromagnetic frequencies used by your Wi-Fi router or microwave, and the concerns are surrounding the potential health risks for your baby.
The main issue is that your baby’s skull is much thinner than an adult’s, which means that radiation can be absorbed into their skull up to 10 times more. Even a little exposure can have long-term effects on their health, including immune and reproductive systems, disrupting the sleep cycle, and even incomplete brain development.
How to Protect Your Baby
First, choose a low-frequency video monitor (35-50 MHz). These are safer, but also lower quality in terms of audio and video, weakened signal, and fewer available features. Some models allow you to switch between low and high frequencies as needed.
Secondly, place your baby monitor at least 1.8 m or 6 ft. away from where your baby sleeps. This will keep the radiation to a minimum.
Tips Worth Considering
Baby monitors can be as safe as possible if you know what to purchase. Safety and health are of paramount importance, so always try to opt for the lowest frequency possible when choosing your baby monitor and avoid internet streaming baby monitors.
Consider your baby’s environment – do you have many thick walls? Do you need an extremely powerful device? If you will be nearby, you can use a low-emission baby monitor. Additionally, baby monitors are not medical devices, so manufacturers do not have to comply with strict standards.
When you have a baby, you have to ask — how safe are baby monitors? Your little one is vulnerable when they are young, and it is your job to protect them. Remember that it is on you to ensure that your baby is always safe and healthy. By following the above tips and information, you can get the benefits of a baby monitor with none of the concerns.