When my children were younger, the worst offense by a young baby-sitter was to talk on the phone too long or drink several cups of tea using a different cup each time (true story!!). Now, with the ubiquitous smartphone, there has been a radical shift in what sitters do in our home while watching our children. The largest shift comes from social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube…you name it, your baby sitter is on it. Common Sense Media addressed this important issue in a recent article.

With this in mind, it’s prudent to revisit the house rules for your baby sitter. Most youth are very conscientious about doing a good job but they lack sound judgement due to their inexperience. So parents can help them to use their phone wisely while on the job. As you know, these devices can be very distracting and you want your child(ren) to be safe in the care of someone else.

Be clear

Most baby sitters, teen-aged and young, adult, are never without their phone texting & sharing constantly. If you’re concerned that they won’t be paying attention to your children, you can simply tell them that the phone will be off limits.

Your baby is on Facebook…now what?

It’s very common for them to take a picture of your cute little one and share it on their media platforms without permission. Be very clear that this isn’t acceptable behavior. Mention this even before an image is uploaded. Or they may show inappropriate videos from YouTube to your child. Provide them with the approved videos that your children are allowed to view.

Technology is your friend

However, don’t be overly discouraging about media use either. If your child develops a strange rash, the image can be sent to you immediately. Then the decision becomes whether the date night gets cut short. This can be the difference between nipping a problem in the bud or having a very sick child.

You’re still the boss

You understand that texting or tweeting shouldn’t be done on the job. But your babysitter may not share your reticence. Get clear in your mind about your house rules and simply explain them as a condition for employment.

Young people need to understand that manners are necessary when using their smart phones. It’s a matter of learning self-control especially when doing an important job such as looking after someone else’s child(ren). Encourage them to silence the phone and play boardgames, Lego, do arts n’ crafts or read with your children, instead.

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