Parents hire no-screen time nannies for their children
Not only must they ensure the kids don't look at screens, nannies cannot use their own phones either.
We all know now that too much screen time isn’t good for your kids. Many of us had a gadget-free childhood, but increasingly it seems our children won’t experience this. For some kids, screen addiction is so bad that their parents have hired nannies to maintain a gadget free childhood!
Nannies: the future of gadget free childhood?
Parents from Silicon Valley have found an unusual way to help their kids control screentime addiction, even though most of these adults themselves likely cannot live without their phones.
The solution? Employ someone else to do the job for you: the Silicon Valley Nanny, who helps kids go through a gadget free childhood everyday. We’re not talking about reducing screentime, by the way – instead, screentime is eliminated altogether.
According to Ms Jordin Altmann, a 24-year-old Silicon Valley nanny, the day passes by with her taking kids “to the park” where she “introduces them to card games”. Board games, particularly, are super popular.
“Almost every parent I work for is very strong about the child not having any technical experience at all,” Ms Altmann said.
Nannies to maintain child’s gadget free childhood with “phone-free” employment contract
Nanny agencies in Silicon Valley are also seeing more and more parents offering nannies strict “phone-free” contracts for employment.
According to Ms Lynn Perkins, the chief executive officer of UrbanSitter, an agency with 500,000 sitters under its network, says that “The people who are closest to tech are the most strict about it at home.”
These new type of contracts simply state that nannies aren’t allowed to use or show screens for whatever reason (including personal use) in front of a child. That includes phones, tablets, computers and TVs, too. But they can answer calls from the child’s parents.
According to Ms Swales, who manages a high-end agency that employs nannies on parents’ behalf, wealthy tech executives are very clear in their policies – zero phone tolerance. It’s the families who aren’t able to use technology properly that can be tougher to deal with.
“It’s almost safer to some degree in those houses because they know what they’re dealing with,” she said, “as opposed to other families who are still trying to muddle their way in tech.”
Some nannies, like Ms Shannon Zimmerman, approve of of a gadget free childhood. It reminds her of good times when kids acted properly and were happy with playing outdoors.
Ironically, it’s the parents who can’t keep their eyes off the gadgets, says Zimmerman. They return home “glued to their phones” without “listening to a word these kids are saying,” she says.
Nanny spies lurking in the playground
At the same time, the very people who make these gadgets have actually become fearful of them. So much so that the need for a gadget free childhood can escalate to aggressive levels.
Some parents hire – or are themselves – phone spies who catch nannies using phones on the job!
These spies proactively monitor kids and inform other parents in an online forum if they see a nanny with a phone near a child. They do this by photographing the nanny. The photo is then posted to social networks filled with parents, asking: “Is this your nanny?”
The posts are intended to shame and accuse nannies not doing their job properly.
Ms Perkins has even given it a nickname: “nanny-outing”. The practice, not surprisingly, is riddled with privacy problems. Some nannies have considered it an “invasion” and even quit at the sight of mums tailing and harassing them during work.
Better methods for a “gadget free childhood”
Parents, we know how you feel. Gadgets can be addictive and affect your child’s growth. But considering that in the past kids didn’t have such technology, it would make sense to limit their screen time usage for beneficial media. Consider the following tips: when setting up a gadget free childhood:
1. Media is just another environment, and can have both positive and negative effects. Try and limit the content your kids are exposed to from beneficial sources.
2. Role modelling is critical. Children mimic behaviour they see in grown-ups. As the parent, limit your own media usage, model online etiquette and lead by example. It is very difficult, but it is so much more worth it than pushing that responsibility to a nanny!
3. Two way communication is crucial for language development. Watching passive video presentations will not lead to effective language learning and will never replace live interactions.
4. Allocate offline playtime activities daily, as it is necessary for your child’s development and creativity. When you do have time, prioritise some family time outdoors or in an enjoyable activity – like cycling down a track!
5. Do some research about which apps are truly educational. A good place to start is trusted organisations such as Common Sense Media review age-appropriate apps, games and programs for your little ones.
References: Straits Times