Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids

Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids by an author (

Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges.

Nellie Bowles in The New York Times. All annotations in context.

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.


From Cupertino to San Francisco, a growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids. It follows that these parents are now asking nannies to keep phones, tablets, computers and TVs off and hidden at all times. Some are even producing no-phone contracts, which guarantee zero unauthorized screen exposure, for their nannies to sign.

This does run counter to the indication that parents themselves cannot examine their own screentime use, and minimize this while their children are present.

The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley. Vigilantes now post photos to parenting message boards of possible nannies using cellphones near children. Which is to say, the very people building these glowing hyper-stimulating portals have become increasingly terrified of them. And it has put their nannies in a strange position.

The article goes on to share insight about “contracts” that nannies are forced to sign to indicate that they will not use screens at any point while watching the child. They are, however allowed to answer calls from the parents. There is also a desire from parents to get updates on their children during the day…using their cell phones.

The article also shares anecdotal evidence of “narcing our nannies” in which private social groups are “nanny-outing.” These groups snap pictures and video of nannies using cell phones while taking care of children, and sharing them in public forums like San Francisco’s Main Street Mamas. This raises questions about public shaming and privacy issues.

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