7 Cell Phone Rules Your Sitter Needs to Know

A quick conversation with your babysitter can protect your kids and your family’s privacy

Sharing ground rules with your babysitter doesn't always make for the most comfortable conversation, but it's key to defining and understanding each other's expectations and ensuring the best possible care for your kids. When meeting with a new sitter or grabbing an opportunity to refresh your expectations with a regular, family favorite, include a frank discussion about your policies and preferences regarding her cell phone use. Here are seven cell phone rules to add to the conversation:

1. Be selective about the time you spend on your phone. We all know how tempting it is to send updates and it's often necessary to communicate with friends and family, but remind your sitter that it's important that she be selective about the time she spends on her phone. Time on the phone takes the focus away from the kids. Suggest boundaries that work for you, whether you'd like her phone to used only in an emergency or limited to your child's nap or quiet time.

2. My children are adorable, but please keep your photos of them private. Determine your policy on your sitter taking photos or videos of your kids and set rules around sharing them on social media. Would you rather no photos be posted or are you comfortable with her posting appropriate photos without using names, tags or locations?

3. Know how and when to reach me. Decide if you want to be called or texted with updates and photos. Let her know how frequently you'd like an update. If you prefer to be contacted only in the case of an emergency, say so.

4. My children will undoubtedly try to hijack your phone. Decide if it's OK if the sitter wants to play apps or watch videos with your child, then define which ones are appropriate by your family's standards and if there is a limit to the amount of screen time. Encourage the sitter to add a passcode lock on her phone to stave off unknowing misuse.

5. Let's discuss what I'm comfortable with you sharing on social media. It's likely your sitter uses social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—and may be unaware that posting photos of your kids may not be something you are comfortable with her sharing with the world. Have a candid discussion about what works for you.

6. Add emergency contact numbers to your phone contacts. Your sitter should have contact numbers and clear instructions for whom to call if you're unreachable. Be sure to include all contact numbers for you, your spouse, your kids' pediatrician, a trusty neighbor and other responsible family members or friends (also include your home address, kids' birthdays and insurance information she may need for a 911 call.) Suggest a spot where you sitter can charge his or her phone -- maybe even provide a spare or portable charger -- and ask that he or she remember to always carry the phone in the case of an emergency.

7. Remember, no cell phone use while driving! It seems obvious, but don't assume your sitter knows safety rules that feel like second nature to you as a parent. This one is an important reminder to give anytime your sitter drives your kids.

Sharing these important cell phone rules with your sitter is part of providing the tools she needs to succeed in caring for your kids. A good sitter will understand the importance of protecting your kids and your family's privacy, and will be glad you took the time to share your rules and expectations.

Photo by Quality Frog via Flickr

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