Before the coronavirus, when parents needed a break from their kids, they turned to a local high school or college student or a site like Care.com to arrange for someone to come to their house and watch their kids. Now, no such arrangement is available. Instead, parents are stuck at home trying to juggle working remotely, homeschooling their children, and everything else that parenting normally entails — without any opportunity to take a break or even attend to their own needs.
According to Forbes, some parents are dealing with this insane situation by turning to virtual babysitters. Like everything else in this brave new world, babysitting has moved from the real world to the virtual world in the form of videoconferencing apps like Zoom and Skype. Parents can hire a babysitter to hang out with their kids via one of these apps.
Virtual babysitters can talk to kids, play games with them, read to them, have a dance party with them, or help them with their homework all via videoconference, while parents take care of things around the house or get some uninterrupted work done, Forbes reported.
Elizabeth Harz, the CEO of the website Sittercity, spoke to Forbes about what she’s learned about virtual babysitting by connecting parents and virtual babysitters.
“If both parents have Zoom meetings at the same time that they can’t get out of, a virtual sitting is a wonderful option. The sessions can be used to assist kids with schoolwork, facilitate interactive games, or simply keep them occupied for a shorter spell than a face to face sitting.”
Harz emphasized that virtual babysitting isn’t the right choice for all families. She told Forbes that virtual babysitting usually isn’t the best option for kids under three and a half because they don’t have the attention span to stay engaged via a screen for too long. Harz said that virtual babysitting often works best for school-aged children.
According to Fatherly, one of the reasons virtual babysitting is such a good tool is that it provides interactive activities for children. Though they’re still using a screen, they’re not passively using a screen like they are when they watch TV. Virtual babysitters engage kids by playing interactive games, getting them thinking, and providing a social outlet that many kids are missing. The back-and-forth nature of the interactions with a virtual babysitter is much more stimulating emotionally and intellectually than hours of screen time.
Other virtual babysitter sites similar to Sittercity include Veebee and Virtual Babysitter’s Club.