Babysitters & Tech: 5 Tips to Keep Kids Safe From Pornography

by Protect Young Minds StaffJun 8, 2021Prepare Kids to Reject Pornography

The number for poison control is hanging on the fridge – check. You’re ready to hug your kids and wave goodbye to the babysitter. But wait! Did you go over any rules to keep kids safe from pornography?

Consider this: The minute a babysitter enters your home (yay, date night!), you’ve also likely invited in a smartphone. Let’s go over a few ways to protect your kids from pornography when they’re being cared for by someone other than YOU.

1. Make a plan for tech use in your home  

The first step to keep kids safe from pornography is to create a technology plan. This plan could include:

  • Screen-free zones in the home (like bedrooms)
  • Screen-free times of day (like family dinner)
  • Device curfews
  • Family media values (what you will and won’t watch/play, etc.)

These rules will help your child more safely manage their screen time when you’re home AND when you’re not.  

Andrea Davis, of Better Screen Time, encourages families to make a Family Technology Plan together. She explains this helps unite families and fuels ongoing conversations about technology. We couldn’t agree more. 

To get started on your family’s plan, check out these free tools:

Include in your plan what your child should do if he or she sees pornography. Not sure how to to talk to kids about pornography? Check out these resources to help you have comfortable, age-appropriate conversations. 

Related: 3 Steps to Give Kids an Internal Filter 

Print and hang up the family tech plan in a high-traffic place and review it often. When children are familiar with following boundaries, it won’t seem strange to have a couple extra tech rules when a babysitter comes over.

2. Add specific rules to keep kids safe from pornography when you’re not home

A proactive parent has a plan in place for what is allowed when babysitters are present, and what is not. Now that you have a family technology plan for every-day use, consider adding rules to protect kids from pornography when you’re away from home. 

Your kids can help you answer questions like these from Sittercity

  • Which device(s) can children use when parents are not home?
  • What type of content can they watch? 
  • How much time can be spent on each device?
  • What are some screen-free activities to do with the sitter? Let’s make a list. 

You and your partner might want to consider these questions on your own:

  • Which device(s) can the sitter use in our home? (Laptop? Game system?)
  • Do we want to discourage the sitter from taking videos or pictures of our children? Posting them to social media?
  • Should the sitter’s phone be off-limits for our children to use? 

Use these as a guide to create rules for times when a babysitter is in charge. Here’s an example of a specific rule: 

You may watch one movie from the stack of Blu-Rays on the counter. No surfing Netflix when parents aren’t home.

You can add these guidelines to the bottom of your family technology plan or print them on a separate page you post only when a sitter comes. This Social Media Policy for Babysitters by Zift is a great example to check out.  

3. Talk about the tech rules with kids and the babysitter at the same time   

Have your family technology plan and your babysitter policy clearly posted somewhere everyone can see. Take a few minutes before you leave to read over these plans with your child and sitter. 

The sitter NOW knows three important things about your family:

  1. Pornography is not tolerated in your home.
  2. Your child knows what to do if they see pornography.
  3. Adults will ask if everyone followed the technology rules .

Wow. Talk about a proactive plan to keep kids safe from pornography. Now there’s less risk the babysitter will show your child pornography (either on purpose or on accident) and a greater chance your sitter will monitor your child’s screen time.

This same strategy can be used with body safety rules to help protect everyone from sexual abuse. So before you leave the house, you can have conversations about the family technology plan and body safety rules. 

Related

Body Safety Rules Every 5-Year Old Should Know

4 Body Safety Rules to Protect Kids Ages 5-10

The last piece to this puzzle is to always check in with everyone when you get home. Ask the sitter, “Did everyone follow the technology plan?” After the sitter leaves, ask your children, “Did everyone keep the tech rules while we were gone?” 

4. What if I feel awkward talking about our tech plan with the babysitter?  

You may be thinking, will having this conversation with our sitter make them feel like I don’t trust them? 

First of all, you’re doing this to help minimize opportunity of your children or babysitter finding themselves in the confusing, overwhelming situation of viewing pornography.

Don’t trust your babysitter because you know him or her well; trust your babysitter because your children have positive responses to your check-in questions over and over. And over. Every time. Yes, dad, everyone followed the technology rules. And the evidence is there to prove it. 

Related: 7 Signs a Child is Viewing Porn that Parents Often Overlook 

If you feel nervous or awkward talking about your family technology plan or babysitter policy, here are some tips:

  • Practice explaining the policy to your partner or best friend. Say it out loud until the words feel familiar. 
  • Print out your plans so you can share the visual, hardcopy. 
  • Explain to your sitter that this is your policy for EVERY sitter, not just them. 
  • Even if you already have a regular babysitter- don’t be afraid to introduce tech rules. Tell them the truth – I read a blog about creating this technology plan and I’m going to use it with ALL of our babysitters moving forward.

Yes, ALL babysitters: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighborhood teenagers…

You can feel more at peace because you are teaching generations about the importance of keeping kids safe from pornography and having limits with technology.

5. Set your sitter and kiddos up for success

Your technology plan is going to include limits on screens when you are away from home. If your child has viewed pornography in the past, or is currently working through an addiction, you may choose to allow zero screen time while the babysitter is in the home. 

Set your sitter and child up for success by providing a couple screen-free activitiesPlease don’t plan out every minute for them. But it might be fun to set aside a container of toys or a shoebox of art supplies that you only bring out on sitter night.

Raise your hand if you had a “rainy day box” in elementary school? (This is a shoebox you brought from home with toys/activities to do in case it was raining too hard during recess). If you did, you might remember the excitement you felt when outdoor recess was cancelled and you got to play with the contents of your “rainy day box.” 

Novel toys and activities are so great for kids; they may just forget about screens for a magical hour or two. 

Summing up how to keep kids safe from pornography when you’re not home

You can help keep kids safe from pornography by having a plan. If you don’t already have a technology plan, create one with your family this month. Don’t forget to add those babysitter rules. 

Here are the resources once again to create one:

If you already have a plan, review it with your family this month. Is it working well for you and your children? Do you have a babysitter policy to go with it? 

Following these steps does not guarantee your child won’t see pornography while spending time with a babysitter. In this day and age, a big part of staying safe from pornography is knowing what to do when it does come up. Make sure this is part of your plan and talk about often.

Someday, your child will thank you for being a proactive parent!