It used to be that the worst thing a yaya would do was raid the refrigerator. But this was before texting, social media, and emojis. Today's caregivers, whether parttime or full-time, sneak — or outright flaunt — something many of us parents don't know how to deal with: constant texting, social media posting, You-Tube-watching, you name it. So how do you dole out the rules?
Of course, the most important thing is that your kids are safe while they're under someone else's care. You might think the worst could never happen to your kids, but mobile devices make getting distracted even easier, and that can have dire consequences. Less severe than a major accident, but still disturbing, would be finding out your babysitter was on Facebook and ignored your kids.
Common Sense Media recommends a few things to keep in mind when talking to your babysitter about your digital rules:
Spell it out. If you know your caregiver grew up with mobile devices (those below 30 years old for example), don't expect them to have the same relationship with their phones as you do. If you don't want yaya texting or using social media while on the job, tell them explicitly.
You saw your baby on Facebook, now what? As much as phones are part of everyday life, so is sharing. Your yaya might not think twice before taking photos of your kids doing something cute and posting it on Facebook or Instagram. If this is something that doesn't feel right to you, let them know right off the bat.
Set screen rules. You're probably used to talking to your yaya about when the TV needs to go off, but don't forget to mention your rules around showing your kids videos or images from their phone. Most caregivers probably have a sense of what is or isn't appropriate, but if you're in doubt, mention it.
Use tech wisely. Running a few minutes late getting home? Having an always-connected caregiver can come in handy when you want to send a quick text from a restaurant. Plus, the ability to send and receive photos can help you decide whether you need to cut a date night short if your sitter is reporting a weird rash or skinned knee.
You're the boss. Hiring someone who spends a lot of time online to take care of your baby means learning to speak their language, nd helping them understand yours. While you might never think of texting your friends or updating your Facebook status while at work, you can't assume they feel the same.
Once you've figured out your rules, you need to discuss them with your caregiver is a condition of the job. And while getting rid of a good yaya can be a heartbreaker, you need to be ready to take action if there's any iffy behavior — whether it happens online, on the phone, or IRL.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out its ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org and sign up for its newsletter to read more articles like this.