Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids

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Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens. Even a little screen time can be so deeply addictive, some parents believe, that it’s best if a child neither touches nor sees any of these glittering rectangles. These particular parents, after all, deeply understand their allure.

But it’s very hard for a working adult in the 21st century to live at home without looking at a phone. And so, as with many aspirations and ideals, it’s easier to hire someone to do this.

Enter the Silicon Valley nanny, who each day returns to the time before screens.

“Usually a day consists of me being allowed to take them to the park, introduce them to card games,” said Jordin Altmann, 24, a nanny in San Jose, of her charges. “Board games are huge.”

“Almost every parent I work for is very strong about the child not having any technical experience at all,” Ms. Altmann said. “In the last two years, it’s become a very big deal.”

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How (and When) to Limit Kids’ Tech Use

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No one cares more about your child’s well-being and success than you do. In today’s digitally-fueled times, that means guiding him or her not just in the real world but in the always-on virtual one as well. Teach your children to use technology in a healthy way and pick up the skills and habits that will make them successful digital citizens. From 2-year-olds who seem to understand the iPad better than you to teenagers who need some (but not too much) freedom, we’ll walk you through how to make technology work for your family at each stage of the journey.

Kids are starting a revolution to get their parents to put down their phones

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Like many seven-year-olds, Emil Rustige gets ticked off when his parents pay attention to their phones instead of him. But unlike other kids, Emil decided to take the issue to the streets.

With the help of his parents, Rustige organized a demonstration on Sept. 8th in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany, with 150 people joining him to encourage parents to put down their phones.

The slogan for the demonstration: ”Play with ME, not with your cell phones!”

Home Alone, With a Spy Cam


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While parents of young children have long used nanny cams to keep tabs on the babysitters, companies are now marketing these products to parents of teens and preteens, too. This time, the camera lens is pointed not at the untrustworthy caregiver, but at the potentially rebellious adolescent.

“Parents use it to better understand when they come and go, what they’re doing, what time they go to sleep, when they have friends over,” Mr. Stohrer said.

“We are living in an age of fear,” she writes. Most of the dangers our children face — a changing climate, a vanishing middle class, spiraling health care costs — are beyond our control. And so our grip on the things we think we can control — like what our children do with their afternoons — grows tighter.

Should You Track Your Teen’s Location?

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Location tracking can, without question, damage the connection between parent and teenager. Research shows that adolescents who believe their parents have invaded their privacy go on to have higher levels of conflict at home. And teenagers who resent being trailed digitally sometimes disable location features, take pains to “spoof” their GPS, or leave their phones at friends’ houses to throw parents off their scent.

As a psychologist, I also worry that location tracking can confuse the question of who is mainly responsible for the safety of the roaming adolescent — the parent or the teenager? If parents decide against using location tracking, I encourage them to talk with their teenager about why.

The Best Influencers Are Babies

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Any old influencer can market tea-toxes or gummies that claim to give you better hair, but not everyone with 100,000 loyal followers on Instagram happens to be pregnant. “If you’re a baby company or if you’re putting out a product for a mother that’s about to have a baby or if you’re currently pregnant, you’re kind of limited in the amount of influencers out there to work with,” he explains. “So, as you can imagine just for supply and demand, it makes you a lot more valuable because the pool of talent is very limited.”

And then there’s the fact that many of these moms are American millennials selling to other American millennials, all of whom are well acquainted with the act of making a purchase on their phones. Instagram shopping in general has boomed, in part thanks to a new class of brands existing mostly or entirely on the platform.