Talking to Your Babysitter About Screen Time
We have all read the reports from the Canadian Paediatric Society about the dangers of using technology to “babysit” our kids, and most of us parents fight the urge to use some screen time to provide us with some quiet time. The struggle can be difficult, and the situation becomes more sticky when a babysitter is involved.
During a trip to Vancouver to visit my sister, we took the cousins to a local playground. While the children frolicked, I was struck by the vast percentage of adults (both parents and babysitters) scrolling through their phones.
This observation motivated me to clearly articulate my “Gadget Guidelines” with my current babysitter.
Here are my Top Three Tech Guidelines:
1. Don’t Give the Kids Screen Time
Assume that my kids are always on 100% screen lockdown when you are with them. If there are any exceptions, I will communicate the specifics to you. (For example, this Friday night my kids can watch “The Lion King” on DVD and afterwards the television should be turned off)
2. Don’t Even Think of Going on Social Media
While you are with my children, there is a zero-tolerance policy on social media.
To be clear, do not “Check In” on Facebook when you take my kids to the Jamie Bell Adventure Park, one of their favorite places in all of Canada. And even if the beautiful towers that lead to the curling slide are donned with paintings from Toronto, do not post an Instagram from this gorgeous location.
Furthermore, do not Snapchat or interact socially on media with any other new-fangled app (on the off chance that I did not sound old enough already, I just had to use “new-fangled).
Most importantly, keep my kids’ pictures off of the internet. I know that my daughters are cute and hilarious – but it’s my job to control their internet presence. #tweetnothing
3. Don’t Play Games on Your Phone … with or without my kids
Even if you find a new app designed by the best mathematician at the University of Alberta to help my 10-year old with her multiplication tables, do not download it for her. I appreciate the tip, but please let me control my children’s use of technology.
The only time you may play games on your phone while my children are in your care is when they are sleeping.
I know that “Words with Friends” is not an inherently bad game, but I want my children to have your full attention.
Furthermore, I want them to see you as a role model of someone who can entertain herself without turning to technology.