Why Parents Need a Social Media Policy for Babysitters

Working with your sitter

by Lauren B. Stevens

Living in the digital age means that you need a social media checklist, in addition to emergency contacts, for your babysitter.

Setting social media boundaries for our babysitter is not something that would have normally crossed my mind… until my son talked about a game he’d played on our babysitter’s phone.

To be clear, I’m not concerned about the content of the game because I know our babysitter’s parents set strict rules for the media she’s permitted to consume.

What took me back about this situation is that I never even considered the fact that a phone would be present at all while we were out of the house, despite our lack of a landline.

While exposing your child to technology isn’t always a bad thing, it’s important to establish some ground rules. Here are a few tips for addressing social media usage with your sitter:

Outline Clear Expectations

Assume that social media is going to enter the mix, either with your babysitter or your children while you’re away.

Have a discussion with both your sitter and your children before digital media becomes an issue so that your expectations are made clear at the outset. If you’re okay with your child playing on your sitter’s phone, let them know. Also, be sure to let them know if you have content concerns with any games that may be on their phone.

Explain the Rules

Parents often leave a list of contacts and step-by-step guidelines as part of their routine, but neglect to explain what’s allowed and what’s off-limits for both the sitter and their children.

Just as you will with your children, explain to your babysitter why you’ve established tech rules, and emphasize that those rules are for both their own and your children’s safety.

These are some questions that should be answered before you step out the door:

  1. Which tech gadgets are your children allowed to use in your absence?
  2. How much time are they allowed to be on them?
  3. Which tech gadgets is your sitter allowed to use — laptop, tablet, game system?

No Photos, Please

Are you okay with your babysitter taking photos or videos of your children? If so, discuss what is allowed, and what isn’t, in terms of photographs and videos. If you’re okay with photos of your children being posted on social media, are you okay with your babysitter’s friends knowing that you’re not home?

Snapchat, for example, is a social app with a lot of fun photo filters — my son always begs his teen cousin to take out her phone and play with the app.

While you can save those photos without posting to an account, mistakes often happen, and information or photos you may not want to appear publicly can accidentally be posted to a stream.

It’s often easier to ask that your sitter refrains from taking photos or videos of your children, no matter how adorable they are, than to check all of their social media to make sure that everything is set to private.

Remember: photos contain metadata that can indicate the location where the photo was taken. Now, your sitter’s post about them at your house could let everyone on their friend list know that they’re at your home without any adults present.

Rules for Quick Reference

We’ve developed a quick and easy tech checklist for you to review with your babysitter, so be sure to post it on your refrigerator or bulletin board for reference. Here are a few examples for your own tech checklist. Feel free to adjust depending on your family’s own set of rules:

Cell Phone: Please limit cell phone use to emergencies only while children are awake; accidents can happen during momentary distractions. You are more than welcome to use your phone once the children are in bed and asleep.

Photos & Videos: We love when our sitters send us photos of our children while we’re gone! However, please do not post or tag photos or videos of our children on social media without our permission, for safety reasons.

Social Media: We use social media too, but please do not use social media while the children are around. Also, please do not announce that you are babysitting on social media, and please turn off your location services if you post to social media while you are here. We want to keep everyone safe while we’re gone.

Internet: You are welcome to use __________ device(s) while you’re here, our Wi-Fi password is ______________.

Screen Time: Please limit ______________’s screen time to __________ minutes. This includes TV, tablet, computer, cell phones, and gaming systems. Please monitor screen time to ensure that the digital media consumed is family-oriented content (no sex, violence or graphic language).

FaceTime/Skype:  Please do not make or take video calls while in our home. We’d rather not have the inside of our home on display, nor do we want our children exposed to strangers.

 

This parenting insight was was provided by Zift, a digital parenting app and educational resource for modern families.