Babysitters: Are They Outdated?

By SharonaGott via Wikimedia Commons
By SharonaGott via Wikimedia Commons

We have all heard the phrase, “Televisions are the new babysitter.” Of course parents have only said that when they speak about cleaning the house and needing their children out of the way. However, is it possible that this phrase is becoming more and more accurate? With today’s new technology is there really any more need for a babysitter?

Children have always been able to be entertained by the simplest of things, although their attention span is pretty short. Technology seems to have found a solution to that. With all these new gadgets and games, children can be entertained for hours and their attention span can be allowed to roam free.

The University of Utah did a study on what children would do if left alone for several hours with various gadgets. These gadgets included a tablet, an ipod touch with games downloaded on to it, a digital camera, satellite television, and a satellite radio. The children, from ages 6 to 11 were put in a kitchen/ living room where experts could watch the happenings behind one way glass. Inside of the room all of the gadgets had been laid out on the living room table with toys of all other sorts in boxes and bins along the walls of the room.

“We had a hypothesis,” Dr. Harmond, the lead specialist on the project, told us. “That the children would become bored with the technology eventually and want to go play outdoors or play dolls or anything besides the technology they were given. We were surprised by what we found.”

Once the children were guided into the room they saw all of the toys that lined the walls, and the gadgets lying on the living room table. They ran straight for the table and picked up the various contraptions they so desired. After about three hours the children were still having fun with the gadgets. The television had been turned on and left on for those three hours, all of the children knew how to work it, and a children’s channel had been playing. One girl who picked up the camera decided she would take pictures of all of the other girls in the room. The tablet was shared between three boys who took turns playing a racing game, the ipod touch was also passed around a few boys and girls who took turns playing their favorite games.

The study showed that children could indeed be kept entertained for hours without parental supervision without getting into anything harmful. Which begs the question; are babysitters truly outdated?