Have you thought about how much time your babysitter spends with your child vs. her device? We all know how tempting it is to have your connection to the world at your fingertips, calling to you with its rings, dings and whooshes every few minutes. How can you be sure your babysitter isn’t heeding the calls of her device over the needs of your son or daughter? Common Sense Media addressed this question in a recent post, “How to Stop Your Babysitter from Sexting, Texting, and Tweeting on the Job“. Here are some tips from them and us on this topic:
Set the Rules, Clearly and Simply: Young people who have grown up with a device in their hands are not always aware that their regular use of it may bother you or could interfere with the performance of their job. Be clear about your expectations, and set the rules before you give them the job. Don’t want any tweeting or texting on the job? Be sure to tell them up front. GCP pet peeve: We’ve lost count of the number of sitters (and moms and dads) seen on the street who are preoccupied with their devices while pushing their toddlers along. Not only is it potentially quite dangerous, you’ll also miss golden opportunities to chat with the little one about interesting things along the way. And we all know (or should know) that toddlers benefit tremendously from talking and having conversations. They need to hear as many words as possible at this age, and chatting with them on a stroll is a great way to increase their vocabulary. So be sure to tell your sitter to reserve any non essential phone time for when your toddler is napping in that stroller.
Privacy and Social Media: We live in a world of shared digital experiences. Pictures of cute babies, puppies and kittens abound on all social media. Is it ok for your sitter to post pictures of your little one on her Facebook page or Instagram account, or upload an adorable video of him singing onto YouTube? Whether your answer is yes or no, have this conversation up front, so that there are no surprises. If the answer is yes, set limits for what can be shared. If instead you want to be the only one deciding what adorable views of your pumpkin the world can see, then make that clear from day one. Be compassionate about the instinct: you have an adorable child, and a loving caretaker could easily have the urge to post a great pic of him. But be very clear about this: if Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. is off limits, let the sitter know before she is tempted to post.
Playtime with the Phone: Also discuss the degree to which you want the sitter to allow your toddler to play with devices, be they her phone or the baby’s own iPad. Giving a fussy little one an electronic plaything to distract and preoccupy him is tempting, we all know, but we also know it is not a good idea to use an electronic device as an ever present pacifier. Help her understand your thinking on this, and set clear limits.
Tech is Not All Bad: When you are having a crazy day at work, having a babysitter who is tech-savvy can save the day. She can send you a picture of your child to show you a special moment you’d otherwise miss, or perhaps to show you a rash that might need immediate attention. She can text you questions or clarifications quickly and efficiently. She may also have suggestions for cool apps that might serve useful for the both of you when managing daily tasks before you arrive home. So rather than make the device the enemy, talk about its productive uses.
It’s Never Too Late to Have This Chat: We live in a digital age where everyone is or is soon to be wired. So if you did not initially spell out these rules with a long time sitter, or your sitter is a relative newcomer to the digital world and you sense a shift towards device preoccupation, have the conversation now. Remember, you are the employer. As your employee, your babysitter should make every effort to adhere to your rules.
The bottom line is you want to do everything you can to ensure that your babysitter is actually spending quality time with your child! These are crucial years to foster positive reinforcement and development. She can’t do that if she is constantly updating her status.