These days everyone’s offering services on the internet, from gardeners to cat sitters. And in the past few years there’s been an explosion in the number of websites offering babysitting services. Yes, even that age-old concept of paying a local teenager to watch the kiddos has gone digital.
Sites like Urban Sitter offer babysitters and nannies for last-minute engagements, like “date night,” or full-time child care. Sitters come with certified background checks and customer reviews. The site offers a one-time payment for a single engagement or a monthly fee for unlimited access. However, the babysitting service is limited to big cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Seattle.
Fortunately, Urban Sitter is not alone in the digital babysitting industry. Sites like Sitter City, eNannySource, and Care.com offer similar services. And you can find dozens of local, independent daycare centers by Googling “finding a babysitter online.”
There is, however, one question looming over this trend. Can you truly trust a stranger you find online to care for your kids? Well, it depends. Most babysitting sites are taking reasonable steps to screen their sitters. They understand that one well-publicized slip up can bring their entire business to a close. To prevent disasters, sites like Sitter City use the LexisNexis screening service, the same one used by the Department of Homeland Security. Others sites offer comments and reviews on Facebook, Yelp, or other social media services.
Of course, investing in a nanny cam is a good idea no matter who is watching the little ones. These hidden cameras allow you to secretly monitor the activities of home caregivers. Apps like iCam let you view multiple video feeds on your iPhone, iPad or other device.
The old saying “trust but verify” is the watchword when it comes to finding a babysitter in the digital age.