More parents are looking for ways to cut down on screen time.
For some that means asking the babysitter or nanny to be more on top of this.
It is the latest trend to hit parenting. How much is too much when it comes to kids, computers, other electronic screens and the controversy is rolling over into contracts between parents and their caregivers.
“I think overall, technology has led to some improvements in society and with kids. But now it seems, there is a growing awareness that too much has negative psychological behavioral impacts with kids and so parents are pulling back on how much screen time kids can have,” said Lynn Perkins from the Urban Sitter.
The Urban Sitter is an agency which connects parents with nannies and sitters through their social networks and contacts.
Perkins says she has seen a growing trend where parents are specifically asking their care givers to sign contracts which spell out strict limits covering screen time.
“I think they are looking at this as paying a care provider to spend time with their kids and I think bond with the care provider and you cannot really do that when you are putting an iPad in front of the child,” said Perkins.
“I started in 2011, there was not much guidance, but now parents are asking to monitor social media and to pull back, especially at night before going to bed,” said Brittany Miller, a care provider for Urban Sitter.
“I have not had that contract, but many of my friends question that, but I think it is good to have those rules out before you start your job. I can see both sides, I can see the value of screen time, some kids love Snapchat, and that is a great way to connect and we send the pictures to their parents at work,” said Miller.
A mom of two young children, Cathleen says she can’t imagine not using a screen time to help with kids during the day and thus believes placing a binding contract on nannies cracking down on their ability to use a screen seems like the wrong tactic.
“I want to see those pictures of my kids when I am at work, so I want them to be using the phone,” said Cathleen.
In addition to restricting kids’ screen time, some contracts have limit when a care provider can or cannot be on their own phone.
Perkins says she has seen problems arise, but more often from those outside the families circle weigh in.
“We hear from other parents that may witness a nanny on the phone at the park, with a critical eye, but it could be taken out of context, a quick text to parents about something important,” said Perkins.
Whether this trend of nanny contracts covering screen time is here to stay or fades is uncertain according to Perkins and others, but they all agree that talking rather than regulating can be more successful in the long run.