Your Babysitter and His/Her Cell Phone

Is it wrong to ask our babysitter to turn their phone off while watching our kids?

© Stephanie Swartz |

Mobile phones can be handy, helpful, and a big distraction. While the devastating results of texting and driving are well publicized, the rate of pedestrian accidents blamed on cell distractions has also increased. Other data suggests an increase in minor accidents is a result of daily distractions caused by the use of mobile phones.

For this reason, most employers have policies in place limiting mobile phone access during work hours. Checking email or making a quick call during a work break may be acceptable, but using the phone to tweet about work, take photos of patrons, or messaging friends and surfing social networks is generally forbidden on the job.

Following this precedent, it is completely acceptable to ask your babysitter to refrain from using her cell phone for personal use while working for you. The key is to have clear discussion about your expectations and any exceptions before laying down the rules.

Start your conversation by taking this approach:

Explain your concerns. When your sitter’s eyes are focused on her mobile phone, she is not focused on your children. Let your sitter know that her attention should be focused on your children while she is on duty. “The kids are very active and really need your full attention at all times.”

Understand how teens use their phones. Many will use their phone to listen to music, play games, text, check in on Instagram, and watch movies. Let your sitter know you aren’t just concerned with distractions related to texting or phone calls.

Lay down some guidelines. Discuss specifics so your babysitter understands that calling a parent, playing games, or using the phone to listen to music later in the evening is acceptable, as long as the children are asleep. “Once the children are asleep, I don’t mind if you use your phone to listen to music or check Facebook.”

Outline exceptions. Often, a cell phone can be handy for a babysitter as a resource or in the case of an emergency. Phones can accompany sitters to the park, play dates, or on a bike ride. “That doesn’t mean I expect you to leave your phone behind. Please take it along to the park in case of emergency and don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions.”

Explain consequences. Let your sitter know that if she or he can’t comply, you will need to find someone else.


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