Nannies use technology and interact on social media platforms just like everyone else. Children they take care of, are a very important part of their lifes – and the temptation to post some funny stories or photos of them is understandable. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, and other sites have become increasingly popular over the years, particularly with the younger generation. However, use of social media also presents certain risks and carries with it certain responsibilities.
There are some parents who don’t mind their family photos publicised for the world to see, but the majority of people like to keep them private to some extent. Where do you draw the line? Have you had a conversation with your nanny or with the parents about their feelings on this subject? Child care experts advise parents to establish a social media protocol for their nannies that includes what can and can't be said, shared or posted in the online world. Most companies have social media rules in place, so there's no reason you can't set ones up.
To avoid misunderstandings, an honest discussion between the parents and the nanny on the acceptable use of social media is vital. Most nannies would never intentionally put the children they take care of in danger, and are more than understanding of the importance of protecting family’s privacy. Parents and nannies may have different sensibilities about this - there is no right or wrong feeling. However when the nanny and the family's feeling on the subject differ, and the family has not communicated their rules, it can lead to conflict.
How to get started? Some general guidelines below as a sample policy that household employers can implement to make sure you and your nanny are on the same page when it comes to social media use:
PERMISSION TO TAKE/SHARE A PHOTO
Advise your nanny of your preference regarding taking and posting photos of your children. Can the nanny post any photos? Would you rather her not post any photos of them, or none that show the child's face? Are you comfortable with her posting appropriate photos without using tags?
When the nanny is out with the child, how does the family feel about this information including location being shared on social media? On many social media sites, the location of your nanny will become visible when he or she posts content. Make sure your nanny turns this option off so strangers won't be able to locate your child, house, etc.
- Be clear and detailed about what content is ok and not ok for your nanny to post. If you are not comfortable with your nanny talking about your child at all, be upfront about it. Maybe you need a policy saying that your nanny shouldn't post, tweet, blog, etc. about any topic that involves your family. Or if your nanny wants to offer advice for other nannies on blogs, your family's privacy just needs to be respected.
- Ask your nanny not to use your family’s full names or give details that could identify you. Your nanny should never share your children's full names online. Decide if nicknames or initials are ok.
- Your nanny shouldn't reveal the exact location of your house (or even the street or town), or any details that might tempt burglars.
Some nannies may Face Time or Skype with friends in the course of a day. What is the family's feeling on this subject? Gently remind your sitter that while it’s very tempting to send updates and often necessary for her to communicate with friends and family, it’s important that she is selective about the time she spends on her phone. Time on the phone takes her focus away from the kids. Suggest boundaries that work for you, whether it be that she only use her phone in an emergency or that she limits the use to your child’s nap time or quiet time.
Once you agree on rules, add them to a social media section in your nanny/family contract. This way everyone knows what is allowed and misunderstandings are avoided. This conversation can be difficult, but it's important that you have it. Your nanny would probably never post anything on a social media site to intentionally harm your children or family, but she may not realize that posting a simple picture or "Check in" is a risk. It's much easier to establish rules now before they are unknowingly broken.