The “virtual babysitters” caring for children amid the coronavirus pandemic


Remote and remote child care? It may seem like a strange concept, but it is already a reality in times of pandemic.

For many parents, childcare is being a challenge this year, so several technology companies got to work on a solution: “virtual” caregivers.

The service is designed so that mom or dad can work from home while someone else, through a computer screen, keeps the children busy.

“The smallest kids need some entertainment, and if the parents are working, they can’t always give them the time they need ”, Richard Conway, founder of Childcare.co.uk, the largest platform, tells the BBC. on-line childcare in the UK.

Your company offers a virtual babysitting service to serve minors of at least two years of age.

“We think that offering nannies virtual babysitters and nannies who work by videoconference, it would be a great solution ”.

But not everyone agrees that caregivers perform their tasks using Zoom calls.

“To a lot of people it seems like a crazy idea that involves leaving the child alone at home,” acknowledges Conway.

Thea experience

Earlier this year, Thea Herodotou, 37, a university professor in London, hired a virtual nanny to look after her five-year-old daughter Zoe.

Zoe

Thea Herodotou
Thea Herodotou says her daughter Zoe, pictured, took several sessions to get used to her virtual babysitter.

With Zoe’s daycare closed during her first lockdown in England, Thea says it was “impossible” to juggle parenting and working from home.

“My husband and I would take frequent breaks to babysit and entertain Zoe, but it turned out stressful“.

So they hired Antoinette Wood, a registered professional babysitter with Ofsted, a government education agency, who cared for the girl “virtually” for an hour a day.

Zoe took a few sessions in Get used, says Thea. “My daughter would run out of the room [en un primer momento]. However, Zoe gradually got used to the daily session and I was able to start to quit.[s] in the room”.

Antoinette says sessions work if they are “one hour at a time, especially since young children have short attention spans.”

“Me I plan a lotso I put together a lesson plan for how Zoe and I would spend our virtual hour together each day, ”she says. “I also sent him a list of items such as paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, dice and a glass of water, that he would need during that hour.”

“The session consists of a short presentation and talk, and then reading stories, singing nursery rhymes and counting numbers, games, music and movement. The time is directed by the girl and every day we end our session dancing around the room to a well-known song “.

Antoinette wood

Antoinette wood
Virtual babysitter Antoinette Wood says she puts a lot of effort into planning the lessons.

“A time bomb”

Richard Conway says there are now more than 4,000 virtual babysitters available on his website and that more than 50,000 parents inquired about the service.

However, it can be argued that the idea of ​​someone taking care of children from the other side of a video call does not appeal to all parents.

Childcare expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author de The gentle parenting book: How to raise calmer, happier children (which does not have a Spanish version, but could be translated as “The book on gentle parenting: how to raise calmer and happier children”), sees some problems in virtual caregivers.

She considers parenting through screens can not replace human interaction, in person.

  • How can masks affect learning in children and what steps can we take?
  • “Children often have difficulties when it comes to living life through screens,” says the specialist. “The separation from friends and family, whom they used to see but now can only see on the screen, and the transfer of all social interaction and classes to the internet I think has created a kind of time bomb.”

    “This is not how we are supposed to live, and I think we will see an impact dragged on in this generation as the children grow up ”.


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