5 Tips to Help You Manage Your Kids' Screen Time With a Babysitter

By Alicia Geigel on June 5, 2022

In today’s world, raising your child without some kind of electronic device in front of them can seem impossible. Between tablets and mobile phones to TVs and video game systems, there is an influx of technological devices at children’s fingertips. While having your kids distracted while you tidy up the house or get some work done is definitely helpful, extended screen time can be detrimental, and potentially lead to irregular sleep patterns and developmental or attention issues, according to The Mayo Clinic.

Monitoring your children’s screen time can be further complicated when you add in a babysitter. While you’re gone, you have to be completely trusting of the babysitter to adhere to your rules and guidelines regarding the use of electronics and screen time. When you’re home, your kids may be more inclined to listen to you, but in the presence of someone else, they may be more difficult to discipline. In this case, it’s particularly important to establish rules and techniques to help make your babysitter’s job as smooth as possible, while also ensuring that your kids aren’t glued to their iPad.

If you are a parent that is looking for a babysitter but are unsure about how to go about managing your kid’s screen time, follow these tips!

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How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

Finding an appropriate balance between screen time and other unplugged activities can feel foreign, especially if you don’t have a starting point to determine an acceptable amount of screen time for your children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for children aged 2-5, one hour of high-quality programming on-screen is best. For children under 18 months, screen time is discouraged. For children 5 and up, monitor the screen-watching activities and set appropriate limits to encourage learning and engaging in other activities.

5 Tips to Manage Screen Time with Your Babysitter

  1. Encourage Physical Activity: There is nothing better than playtime for a young child. Whether it be running around outside, riding a bicycle or scooter, kicking a ball, or shooting hoops, physical activity is good and healthy for your children. When screen time gets in the way, however, your child may feel more inclined to sit inside in front of the tablet rather than use some of their energy for physical activity. To distract your child from the potential fear of missing out and get them away from the screen, encourage your babysitter to play with your children outside. This does not have to be rigorous and can be as simple as a few rounds of hide and seek or duck, duck, goose. The movement and physical activity will not only be fun, but it will also make your kids more tired which means less time on the screen anyway.

  2. Provide Materials for Other Activities: When kids don’t have the one thing they want and there’s nothing else to occupy their time, pure chaos can ensue. To avoid this, provide your babysitter with plenty of materials and activities to deflect from the almighty screen. This can be books, board games, physical toys like trucks, dolls, slime kits, etc. Not only can your kids unplug by playing with different toys, but there’s also a good chance they will learn something in the process! Another step you could recommend to your babysitter is to cook a meal with your child. Preparing a simple meal together like a sandwich or granola with yogurt or even a small personal pizza are fun ways to get your kids engaged and away from the screen.

  3. Reserve Screen Time for Something Special: Taking screen time away totally is a hassle, so why not find a compromise and reserve it for something special like watching a movie or an episode of a TV show? Doing so can directly involve your babysitter, which helps to better monitor what your child is doing, and also places a limit on the amount of time the screen is on. The babysitter can make the movie-watching event particularly fun by setting up a fort of blankets and pillows in front of the TV and including snacks like popcorn and juice for that special experience.

  4. Download Educational Apps: If you don’t mind your kids using some kind of electronic device but want to control what they’re using, try downloading educational apps to at least make their screen using time beneficial. There are so many different apps out there, from letter learning and number counting to even learning a new language and reading about different animals/wildlife. In this case, your children can use interactive, engaging apps that will stimulate their brain in a good way, which encourages them to learn.

  5. Use a Screen-Time Tracking App: For peace of mind, you can always download a screen-time tracking app to monitor the exact amount of time your kids spend on a device. While you want to be completely trusting of your babysitter, this extra layer of monitoring can give you an insight into not only the screen usage but the type of activities and games your children like to play.

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Image via Pexels

Keeping track of your children’s screen time when you’re not around can be a hassle at first. Talk with your babysitter, establish a few key ground rules, and recommend a handful of ideas to make the process smooth for the two of you.

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