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Nannies and Social Media: How Much is Too Much?

Posted on by Erin | in Nannies

For most of us, Facebook and Twitter have become a natural part of how we communicate with family, friends, and co-workers. It’s become second nature to hop onto Facebook and update our status and check in with what others are up to, or scan Twitter to see what the hot topics of the day are. The popularity of smart phones has made it even easier for us to stay connected from just about anywhere. But the use of Facebook and Twitter brings unique challenges to the nanny field. Many parents feel they’re paying their caregiver to be fully focused on their child throughout the day, not to be chatting with friends online. Conversely, many nannies feel they can do a great job while using social sites to get a break from the isolation that being a nanny brings. Parents have been concerned about distracted nannies for years. It started with caregivers talking on their cell phones and has grown to include texting, Facebook, and Twitter. When a nanny’s immersed in a text or an online conversation her full attention isn’t on the child she’s caring for. In a public area, like a park or an indoor play space, this can have real life safety consequences. When a caregiver is inattentive a child can get hurt more easily, fall victim to older or more aggressive kids, or in rare but devastating cases, become prey to a child predator. What about at home when the child is playing in a safe, kid-friendly area? This is where many parents and nannies have different viewpoints. Many parents want their nanny’s full attention on their child at all times. Many nannies feel that when kids are playing independently or with friends they can provide supervision while checking their Facebook page or sending out a quick tweet. This isn’t a question that has one right and one wrong answer. The solution that’s right for your family depends on you, your nanny, and the type of caregiving environment you want for your child. One of the advantages of being a nanny employer is that you get to set the rules. You make the decision about the type of person you hire, the boundaries that shape her on-duty behaviors, and the environment she’ll create for your child. Conducting an in-depth interview and reference check helps you accurately predict if the person you’re hiring will mesh with your employer and parenting style, and if the nanny will uphold your preferences throughout the day. As an employer, you have three options for addressing the social media issue with your nanny. One, you can impose a social media free zone in your home. Two, you can sit down with your nanny and find

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an approach that works for both of you. Or three, you can leave it up to your nanny to use her best judgment about what’s OK. Simply declaring your nanny isn’t allowed to visit any social media sites while on duty may keep your nanny off of Facebook and Twitter, but it won’t ensure she’ll give your child the attention you want her to. If your nanny doesn’t understand or agree with the idea behind the policy, she’ll most likely follow the letter but not the spirit of the law. As the employer, you have the last word when it comes to what your nanny does and doesn’t do on the job. But enforcing on-duty guidelines is much easier when caregivers understand the why behind the guideline. Sitting down with your nanny and having an honest conversation about how she uses social media on the job, and outlining your concerns and preferences, is an effective way to create a policy that works over the long haul. Talking with her about your concerns and what you want for your child on a day to day basis will help her understand where you’re coming from. Even if she sees things differently, she’ll be much more likely to work with you and adjust her social media use to put you at ease. She wants to do a great job. Your nanny’s day is full of judgment calls that will directly impact the health, safety, and well-being of your child. Many parents feel if they can trust their nanny to make all those other decisions, they can trust them to use Facebook and Twitter appropriately while on duty. This often comes when the nanny has been on the job for a while and has a proven track record of making smart, sound judgment calls the parents are comfortable with. Although the social media issue can be tricky for parents and nannies, detailing on-duty boundaries in a clear and fair policy is the best way to keep this issue from turning into a problem.

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