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Setting Guidelines for TV and Internet for Your Kids

Tiffany Smith
April 16, 2007

Working with the sitter to protect your kids from off-limits media

Your idea of "appropriate" movies and websites might be very different from your babysitter's or nanny's. But if you have strong opinions on the movies and websites you want (or don't want) your child viewing, you need to make sure you're all on the same page.

Movies and Television

  • Tell your child care provider which movies and TV shows your kids are allowed to watch and which they're not. You can be general nothing over a PG rating, only shows on Nickelodeon and PBS or give a list of individual titles.
  • Let her know what kind of programming she's allowed to watch in your home. After the kids are in bed, does she have free reign, or would you rather she didn't?
  • If you have parental controls on your TV, show her how to work them, or turn them on yourself before you leave.
  • If your child has a TV in his room, make sure your sitter knows that, and remind her that his program selection should be supervised.
  • Make sure there are plenty of activities outlined for your child and child care provider. If they're having fun, they might not watch TV at all.


  • If you can, keep the computer in a high-traffic area so the sitter can supervise one child's use while watching other children.
  • Activate parental controls or purchase software that enables you to monitor and manage content. Show the sitter or nanny how to operate it.
  • Encourage the sitter or nanny to sit down at the computer with your kids.
  • Outline your internet usage rules. How long can your kids be online? Are there certain websites or certain online games you'd rather your child avoid when you're not home?

The bottom line

If you have very strict rules, you can ask the sitter to keep kids off the computer and away from the TV. If you're more lenient, you should at least give your child care provider some guidelines.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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