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au pair and internet - what is reasonable?

(11 Posts)
MizZan Mon 14-Sep-09 23:44:22

We have a very nice new au pair with us who is nearly 20 and is living away from her home country for the first time. She is helpful, nice with the kids, generally responsible and considerate. However I just found out today that she has been spending LOTS of time on the Internet when supposedly watching the children (found this out because I saw her on Skype when I was at work - today was my first day working at my office for a full day since she's joined us - and my older son then confirmed that she has been on it a lot when she's with them). Was a bit surprised by this as otherwise she generally seems much more responsible than other APs have been, but it fits right in with the fact that she spends a minimum of 2 hours every night on skype video chat with boyfriend, family etc. She has hardly been out since arriving here (we live in a very nice university city).

Any suggestions on how I can tactfully tell her that Internet and computer use during work hours is not acceptable? She has set work hours (30 hrs per week). I have no real way to monitor her as I myself cannot be on Skype all day to keep an eye out - she does seems to be having an awful lot of trouble detaching herself from her home/boyfriend so I can see there is a lot of temptation there and my younger son is too small to "report" on her.

And no, I have not given her any house rules yet - did not have time to put them together before she arrived and she has been so great in other ways that I was starting to think I didn't need them...should have known.

thank you!

PixiNanny Tue 15-Sep-09 09:25:29

She may leave her skype on whilst she's working and go up from time to time to check on it? I do it all of the time, my PC stays on all day (facebook, skype and msn stay on all day, if my boss had me on any one of these she'd see me 'online' all day everyday!) and I absentmindedly will glance at the screen or respond to something quickly if I come up to my room for anything, the kids tell their parents that I go on mine for an hour at a time when with them, but as they usually have a dinner that I take hours to cook and go to the park, their parents are dubious to believe that (thankfully), but it may be the same situation at yours. Kids are bad with time, and teenagers like to exaggerate

And as for not going out, she may not be a people person? Or she may just want to spend some time with herself? I see nothing wrong wth spending a couple of hours a night catching up with everyone back home. But again, thats the type of person I am. Since coming here last November I haven't gone out once in this place I work, I have maybe one person I consider a friend here and tbh I'm not bothered about going out, I enjoy spending the evenings doing my own thing, she may be the same; of course, that's not handy if you want to get rid of her for a few hours some nights grin

Also, as you said yourself, she's away from her home country for the first time, has family, friends and boyfriend back home and is likely missing them, so the hours on skype in the evenings is understandable.

PixiNanny Tue 15-Sep-09 09:34:25

I would like to add, that I'm not accusing your kids of lying, but it may genuinely be a case of the AP leaving things on, which is common in any workplace and many people openly admit to checking their various sites whilst at work unless there are restrictions in place.

On exageration:
Last week I lost my house keys so called my older charges school (he's 12) and asked them to give him a message about where to go to get taken to where me and his sister were (a friend's house), etc. I kept checking up on home and the meeting place and eventually walked up on his school path when he didn't turn up by 4:50. Got back to the house at ten past five and he was there. That evening he told his parents that he'd been waiting for me at the house for an hour. Your kid could be doing the same, even without realising.

btw, cannot spell exageration apparently!

BoffinMum Tue 15-Sep-09 10:35:33

Once I - shall we say - 'sabotaged' the wireless network at home by slightly unplugging it, to wean an AP off the Skype habit, as she was just sitting in her room being homesick for her mates and not getting out and making new friends in the UK. It worked well as a tactic and she cheered up after that.

limonchik Tue 15-Sep-09 12:48:09

I would just tell her that you'd rather she didn't use the computer during work hours - if you haven't told her yet then she won't know. Mention it to her when you next see her - "oh, I noticed you were on skype when I was at work today. I'd prefer you didn't use the computer during your work hours".

I think if she chooses to spend hours online in her own time then that's up to her though.

MuffinToptheMule Tue 15-Sep-09 17:37:18

When I worked as an AP I never went on the internet, I would have never had the time to! I think you should tell her that there should be no internet during working hours. When I wasn't working however I spent nearly all my spare time on the net.

Millarkie Tue 15-Sep-09 18:02:43

Hey Mizzan - I would not use tact to be honest! And just tell her that she has plenty of time to skype/surf outside working hours! I am ROFL at Boffin' s 'slight' unplugging though
How is your computer set up? I know that my dh's solution would be to block skype and most sites during working hours (we are networked via a server and he is a professional hacker though).

madusa Tue 15-Sep-09 19:52:54

my husband too put a block on the internet during working hours as we had an au pair who would leave the children downstairs watching the television so that she could go on the internet

she only worked 25 hours a week!

PixiNanny Tue 15-Sep-09 21:14:34

Not being funny, but if you can't trust your AP's to do their jobs properly and resort to blocking the internet, why do you not replace them? Blocking the internet during work hours is silly, what if they want to find a quick creative activity or recipe? If you can't trust them to be responsible with it (and therefore your kids) during work hours then they shouldn't be looking after your kids? :/

Millarkie Tue 15-Sep-09 21:28:35

Don't you start me off on the definition of trust and it's different levels Pixi

(And to clarify - we have not blocked the internet but I know that it is what dh would suggest if we thought an otherwise acceptable au pair was getting too distracted by it AND, wouldn't block the whole web - just msn/skype type sites (as I said, he is an engineer, he has a similar set up on the kids computer with sites either allowed/blocked and an automatic time limit).

PixiNanny Wed 16-Sep-09 14:53:03

Well I was thinking, if you don't trust her not to go on the computer during work hours, when she is supposed to be looking after your children, then she shouldn't be left with the children as she won't be looking after them iyswim?

I was mainly trying to get an AP POV across, as I know that I frequently leave internet on so it may have been a genuine mistake

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