It happened so quickly I barely knew what happened. A new babysitter had arrived at the house and my kids and I were showing her around. My daughter, age 5, was fascinated by the babysitter's long blonde hair. Naturally, my kiddo started saying the babysitter's hair reminded her of Elsa from "Frozen." Seconds later, my daughter belted out a medley of the "Frozen" greatest hits. I won't lie. It was particularly adorable.
But what wasn't cute was when our babysitter broke out her phone and started videotaping my daughter's impromptu performance. Before I realized she was even taping it, the babysitter had already pressed send and posted a video of my daughter to her own Facebook page.
A Darwinian panic set in and I felt immediately protective of my daughter. My husband and I post photos of our children on Facebook and Instagram, but they are our children. The thought of a group of strangers liking or commenting on photos of my children made me uncomfortable and angry. I didn't want my kid's images to be fodder on someone else's social media . Truthfully, her videotaping my daughter and posting it without asking felt like a violation. I immediately asked her to take the video down and then I asked her to leave.
The incident got me thinking about childcare providers and social media. My husband and I used plenty of babysitters in the past. If the sitter wanted to take a photo of one of my children, she'd ask. And most of our babysitters weren't on Facebook or Instagram, so I didn't need to worry about where the photos ended up.
But I realized I needed to have a social media policy for all my babysitters. And more importantly, I needed to not be scared to broach the subject and let our trusted babysitters know our family's policy.
If you don't have a social media policy for your babysitters, you must. Here are the rules we ask our babysitters to follow.
1. Get Permission
Photos of the kids should not be taken without permission from their parents.
2. Put Your Phone Away
Phones and cameras should be put away during the workday unless used for an emergency or contacting with the children's parents. A babysitter's job is to watch the children. There's really no reason for her phone to be out and really no reason for her to be taking photos of the kids.
3. Keep My Kids Off Your Facebook
A childcare provider should never share photos and videos of children they are watching on the childcare provider's own social media. And if they feel the need, permission should be granted from the parents.
4. Your Photos Are Just For You
Any photos taken by a nanny or babysitter are for their use only and should not be shared with friends or relatives.
5. Respect Our Family's Privacy
Parents are naturally protective of their personal information and protective of their own children. It's disrespectful to post images of someone else's children online without permission. You don't know where those photos are going to end up.
So if it never occurred to you to talk to your babysitter about social media etiquette, now is the time. And if it's occurred to you but you've been timid about bringing it up, remember that your job is to protect your children. And that includes on the Internet.