Parenting experts are sounding the alarm about stories circulating of parents leaving their children home alone with nothing but the audio and video feeds from a baby monitor to connect parents and kids.
A recent example of “babysitting by baby monitor” involved late ABC News executive producer Dax Tejera, 37, and his wife Veronica. The husband suffered a heart attack and died on Dec. 23 while the couple were out in New York City, according to multiple reports.
Their two small children, reportedly two years old and five months old, were left alone in a hotel room with only a baby monitor while the couple was reportedly out to dinner around the corner.
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Veronica Tejera, 33, was arrested and charged with two counts of child endangerment just hours after her husband’s passing, after police received a call from the hotel about “unattended children” at the location, said USA Today.
“We had two cameras trained on my children as they slept, and I monitored them closely in the time I was away from them,” Veronica Tejera said in part in a statement provided to Entertainment Tonight and the New York Post.
“While the girls were unharmed, I realize that it was a poor decision,” she also said.
“When an accident happens to a baby or child, it happens in seconds, not minutes.”
Meanwhile, last fall an unidentified young mother left her infant at a rental apartment in the Outer Banks of North Carolina while she and her husband went to the beach located five minutes away.
“We sat on the beach and watched the monitor,” the woman recently told the New York Post for an article on the topic.
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The monitor has a built-in app that alerts a cellphone with notifications when it senses movement or sound, the woman also said.
“We do it all the time. There’s no point in having a babysitter. We frequently go back and check in on him, too,” the woman added.
While monitors offer convenience and “eyes and ears” on a child when parents are separated from them physically, should parents really trust baby monitors exclusively with their children’s health and safety?
“Parents don’t realize how quickly they must act – and they simply can’t do this if they aren’t physically present.”
One Michigan-based pediatrician with over 30 years of experience in treating children offered a resounding “no.”
“Parents are increasingly leaving their children alone in their homes or cars, believing that they can keep their child safe by carrying a video monitor with them,” Dr. Meg Meeker, who is also the author of several books, including “7 Keys to Staying Sane During the COVID-19 Crisis,” told Fox News Digital via email this week.
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“Here’s what parents miss,” Dr. Meeker continued. “When an accident happens to a baby or child, it happens in seconds, not minutes. And parents must respond within seconds, not minutes.”
Calling response time “a matter of life and death” to a child, Dr. Meeker said that permanent brain injury is only one possible tragic outcome.
“How long can a choking baby stop breathing before his brain is damaged?” Meeker said.
“Not long. How much smoke can a child inhale in a burning home before he passes out? How quickly should a child get to a hospital if he falls and becomes unconscious?”
“There is a place for video monitors — but they should never replace a person within short reach of a child.”
The answer to that, she said, is nothing less than “as soon as possible.”
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Meeker also said, “I have profound respect for the quickness with which kids can have life-threatening injuries.”
She added, “We are trained to work fast because we know that speed matters when treating a hurt child.”
She continued, “Parents don’t realize how quickly they must act — and they simply can’t do this if they aren’t physically present.”
Meeker added, “Fires can break out, babies can choke, suffocate, fall or even — God forbid — have a stranger break into the home and take the child.”
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While noting that “parents certainly need to have time away from their baby,” she emphasized that a videocam is “no substitute for a person” when it comes to taking care of a child.
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“There is a place for video monitors, but they should never replace a person within short reach of a child,” she said.