Digital and networked media are extending parents’ ability to care for their children across distances, creating forms of care (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017) that manifest as spectral presences (Derrida 1994; Peeren 2014). Commercial products help parents to track their child’s locations, to use a phone’s microphone to listen in to conversations around the child in real-time, and to review the child’s online activity. With apps, it is also possible to control the temperature, check the contents of a fridge, and monitor the media consumption of a home remotely. Researchers explore the phenomenon of mediated family surveillance in terms of how it affects trust between children and parents and poses ethical challenges to privacy. At the same time, the effectiveness of these technologies in keeping children safe is put into question (refs). In this paper, we contribute conceptually to the thinking of mediated family surveillance by relating these practices to ongoing debates about the “spectrality” of media and telepresence, as developed in media and cultural studies (Blackman 2019; Kemper 2022). We propose that current mediated family surveillance is giving way to a new style of intimate spectral media, where both comfortable and uncomfortable (perhaps even haunting) caring and loving presences are sustained by networks and data. What needs do such intimate spectral media fulfill for parent and child, and what impositions are involved in being enabled to provide care at a distance (and sometimes also across time zones)? What forms of care at a distance are deemed nourishing, and what forms are horrifying and alienating, and what negotiations take place around the fine line intimate spectral media draw between care and control? By addressing these questions, this paper shows that the debate about how care at a distance manifests and is experienced is also a conversation about the affordances of media, and how care and media shape each other.