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Can I address digital 'stranger danger' in child custody terms?

Some lessons we learn from an early age. Don't cross the street without looking both ways for cars. Avoid hot stoves. Don't talk to strangers. That last one is usually modified somewhat if you happen to be with a parent and they say it's OK.

These are common rules in Arkansas and probably any other place in the world you might happen to be in. They are solid in so far as they apply to the physical realm, but there is a virtual realm – the online world – that is as big a part of our reality as any other. It's such a significant factor that it's something some suggest it needs to be on the table when dealing with child custody matters.

Consider this scenario as a possible example. You and your estranged partner are working out terms of an agreement on terms of custody of the children. At the very least, you might work to ensure that a certain consistency in practice when it comes to discipline, meals and sleep patterns. Maybe there are even provisions that deal with when and who gets hired for babysitting.

Here's the question. Should those rules regarding babysitters include some clear expectations around a babysitter's use of social media when they are taking care of the children?

It's a question that many probably have never even considered, as is evidenced by one recent article in The Washington Post. A mother describes how she suffered a wave of panic when she came home from an outing to learn that her daughter had chatted by way of digital video with an unknown boy the sitter knew.

The call was innocent enough, but the writer says the experience revealed vulnerability in her efforts to ensure the best interests of her children. She just never realized how second nature social media has become youngsters.

Not surprisingly, there's now a new stranger danger rule in that household banning babysitter social media use. Similarly, some might argue that it makes sense to establish such a rule as part of a reasonable child custody agreement. An attorney can help determine if such a provision is viable.

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