For many youngsters, babysitting is the first step into the professional, working world, but don't think that means they're expecting payment in small bills. According to Care.com, the average babysitting charge in 2014 was $13.50 per hour, well above the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
For that kind of money, you'd expect your babysitter to take his or her job pretty seriously. Unfortunately, that's just not always the case. While mom and dad are away, the kids - and the responsible party watching them - may be "playing" more than you think.
Lets children have free reign of their mobile devices
Whatever your stance on your kids' "screen time," you likely already know that time spent glued to a smartphone, laptop or other streaming device can definitely affect your child's academic, social and emotional health - to say nothing of the consequences of viewing movies, videos and pictures inappropriate for their age or maturity level. Unfortunately, your babysitter isn't likely as diligent as you in monitoring your childrens' viewing habits - appropriate or otherwise. Internetmatters.org reports that 61 percent of children go online to watch video clips, so while you're enjoying that steak dinner, your kids could certainly be watching something harmful.
Shares photos of your kids on social media
Your babysitter might love your children - like really, really love them. And if that's the case, he or she might be tempted to post that funny video of your daughter eating pesto, or the time they rode bikes to the park together. While you too might be a social-posting junkie, you've likely secured your social media privacy settings to control who can view those adorable kid pics. If your babysitter is a teen or young adult, it's unlikely he or she shares your privacy concerns - meaning that your kid could be showing up on countless strangers' social feeds.
Streams inappropriate content
Once the children are in bed, your babysitter will be finding ways to keep occupied during those long, quiet evening hours. Unfortunately, the movies or TV shows your babysitter watches in your home still has the potential to affect your kids. Children may wander into the living room in the middle of an inappropriate movie scene, or overhear explicit language from his or her room. That's exactly why Care.com advises babysitters to never watch inappropriate content while on the job, even if the kiddos are snoozing.
Lets them eat junk
You left a beautiful dinner of chicken breast and lima beans, ready for your babysitter to heat up and feed your child. But that effort may be totally wasted at your child's first balk. A lazy babysitter might forgo the healthy dinner quickly and pop open the cheese puffs, Pop Tarts, and lemon-lime soda. Finish that dinner off with ice cream and you could come home to some serious tummy aches, not to mention some seriously undermined eating habits.
Makes it a party
You might trust your babysitter, but what about his or her friends, family, boyfriend, girlfriend, cousin... you get the idea. While you're enjoying the peace of mind of knowing your children are in the care of a responsible adult, your babysitter might be playing host to friends or acquaintances that you don't approve of. At worst, these "new players" could potentially mistreat your child. At best, your babysitter is likely too distracted to provide an appropriate level of care, increasing the likelihood that he or she is giving your child carte blanche with their smartphones and mobile devices.
Encourages inappropriate behaviors
Living in a digital world has its conveniences, but all that connectivity makes the world scary for parents trying to shield their kids from bullying, peer pressure, sexting and other damaging and inappropriate behaviors. In a world where 24 percent of high-school teens have sexted, your "super cool" babysitter might be encouraging your child to send or receive harmful and inappropriate messages - or simply allowing it to happen.
In a perfect world, you'd always be there to monitor your kids' every action and behavior. Unfortunately, life is busy and your kids have lives, too. Download WebSafety, a comprehensive, multifeatured parental control application designed to help you monitor and track your children's social and mobile activity. This way, when you leave them with a babysitter or on their own, you still have a protective eye watching over them.