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Adventures in Digital Babysitting
By: Christine Geraci
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Remember when online dating was creepy? Not anymore. And along the same lines, another highly personal aspect of human life is getting digitized: Finding babysitters for your kids.
In this GigaOM post, Erica Zidel talks about the circumstances that prompted her to found SittingAround, a digital babysitting startup that allows parents to choose, review, and even pay babysitters online. Zidel, a mother to a three-year-old, basically thought it bizarre that she could book a table at a restaurant in a matter of seconds online, but needed at least a day to find someone to watch her kid so she could honor the reservation.
As it turns out, babysitting startups like SittingAround are gaining popularity, particularly with young, urban parents. Instead of taking days to find and vet possible babysitting candidates, parents can create their own profiles, browse babysitter profiles, even video chat with potential sitters online — and make a decision in much less time.
If you think the social element is cool, consider the financial one: Services like SittingAround actually allow parents to direct deposit payments to the babysitter's bank account online.
Plus, consider how services like these actually stoke the entrepreneurial spirit of babysitters. In olden times, parents hired the typical teenage daughter of a friend, and if she didn't sneak her boyfriend into the house when the parents left, she might get some repeat business with the family. With a digital babysitting service, a good babysitter can interview potential clients, show off glowing reviews, and book recurring jobs all from her computer or mobile device.
Although these services seem to appeal a bit more broadly to the urban parent, it seems it's only a matter of time before the Internet connects babysitters and families in more rural areas as well. 
Do you use a digital babysitting service? If not, would you?

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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