What To Do When… You discover a caregiver is using more media with your child than you’re comfortable with

Five small children watching a tablet together

It’s not uncommon for daycares, babysitters, and even grandparents to use media, such as television and tablets, to entertain children during the day, often for the same reason parents use these media: they need a break or have other things they need to do.

Just as it’s okay to address other safety concerns, such as poisonous household chemicals and electrical hazards, it’s okay to voice your concerns about screen use. Here are some ideas for non judgemental conversation starters:

Wait for a time when the caregiver is not busy with other activities and ask if you can speak with them.

Ask about the range of activities your child might engage in.

  • “What are some hands-on activities the kids can do  instead of using tablets?”

Inquire whether you can help address the caregiver’s stressors.

  • “You are so wonderful with my child. Are there ways I can help my child interact with you and the other kids rather than watching videos?”

Share your concerns about dependence on a device for play or entertainment.

  • “Can we talk about what my child is learning with the tablet? Can you suggest other ways for her to gain those skills without using a device?”

Suggest ways for your caregiver to get household tasks done while with your child.

Performing household  tasks together is stimulating for a young child’s developing brain and keeps them safe while the caregiver gets important things done.

Showering: Sitting a baby in their bouncy seat to watch water drops running down the curtain while you shower (and listening to you sing) is as engaging as baby videos.

Cooking: Giving a toddler a spoon to bang on pots or dried oats or beans to dig in or scoop from one pan to another while you prepare dinner is fun and supports their fine motor skills and understanding of cause and effect.

Cleaning: Small children love cleaning! Giving a toddler a rag to “clean” surfaces or placing  the baby in a walker or in their bouncy seat on the counter to be with you (and get splashed) while you do the dishes is fun for them and makes them feel helpful.


Vanderloo L. M. (2014). Screen-viewing among preschoolers in childcare: a systematic review. BMC pediatrics, 14, 205. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2431-14-205