McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law
Setting Social Media Boundaries for Babysitters Can Prevent Dangerous Situations

By Matthew Casey

You are looking forward to a much-needed date night with your spouse. You make plans for a fun evening and line up a babysitter. Upon the sitter’s arrival to your house, you go over the standard instructions: important phone numbers, approved snacks, amount of screen time on electronics and appropriate bedtimes.

But one thing many parents fail to address with the sitter is how much screen time the sitter is allowed and how much social media sharing the sitter is allowed while he or she is supposed to be watching your kids. This is a subject many parents have not even considered addressing, but it’s definitely an issue and—if not addressed—it could lead to some dangerous or awkward situations.

The majority of teenagers have cellphones and oversharing information via posts, texts, tweets, Snapchat and Instagram is ingrained into the fabric of their culture. But that doesn’t mean they should be sharing a post about their babysitting gig or posting a picture of your kid on social media.

First and foremost, the sitter has been hired by you to watch your kids. The safety of your kids should be their top priority. You don’t want the sitter distracted by chatting, texting or reading social media updates. You know yourself, it only takes a few moments of inattention for kids to get into mischief or a potentially dangerous situation. So, you have every right to tell the sitter to restrict her social media usage to nap time or after bedtime.

With regard to oversharing information, for safety issues, you may be in the habit of not sharing pictures of your kids or using their real names on your social media pages. This is especially true if your kids are adopted, foster children or if you have an ongoing custody dispute with an ex-spouse. If this is true, then you definitely don’t want the sitter oversharing information on their social media pages.

And, for security reasons, you don’t want the sitter announcing to the world she is home alone with your kids. Posts like this get especially tricky when the phone and the photos have the geolocation and geotags turned on—so now everyone knows the location of your house and that you aren’t home. Again, you have every right to ask the sitter that she doesn’t announce her babysitting job through social media. Additionally, you can tell her that you don’t mind if she photographs your kids, as long as she only shares the pictures with you.

Whatever limits you decide to set with the sitter, just be clear and consistent about your phone and social media usage rules. And, remember you are dealing with a teenager—so occasional reminders about your policy will also go a long way in keeping your kids and the sitter safe while you are away.

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