New Virtual Babysitting Service Launches During Coronavirus Pandemic


LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new startup is offering parents who need a break during the coronavirus quarantine a virtual daycare service.

SitterStream is an on-demand online babysitting service which was launched by founder Stephanie Africk after the pandemic hit in March. It gives parents an alternative to bringing an outsider into their homes.

“This thought came into my head, like, ‘how amazing would it be for a virtual babysitter to come up on my screen while I would exercise, so I didn’t have to invite someone into my home for three hours to watch my child for 45 minutes,’” Africk, who has four children, told CBS2 Wednesday.

Parents can book a sitter on video chat for an either 30 minute or one-hour session, which includes age-appropriate arts and crafts, music and even dancing.

“We need to be able to have somebody handle the kids for a little while, while we get a little work done or just get dinner made,” said Gabe, a father in L.A. who uses the service.

Gabe and his wife Katie say the service is better than putting their children in front of a television and keeps them more involved than their online school classes.

“They are engaged in a different and more playful way, and I think they have the impression that they have more control over the experience than a classroom,” Katie said.

The half-hour session costs $15, while the full hour is $22. The company also offers $20 a month memberships for discount rates.

SitterStream employs hundreds of professionals from fields such as education and occupational therapy. Parents can customize the lesson if they would like to.

The company emphasizes that the service does replace adult supervision.

“We are all about those mini-moments in your day, when you need some extra help, when you want to take that work call, when you want to go take a shower, when you want to prep dinner,” Africk said.


When I came across this article, I was initially intrigued by the phrase “Virtual Babysitter” and thought to myself, “How could that possibly work?” According to Stephanie Africk, its working pretty well for families who can afford paying 22 bucks an hour to have a trained sitter facilitate activities over video chat. While I think this solution further divides the “Haves” from the “Have Nots” when it comes to the educational gap being created between communities of different incomes, I do think its worth noting. Parents need little get-aways from the task of constantly engaging their children in activity. Virtual nannies might not be a wholistic solution for everyone, but there have to be other (less expensive) methods to explore.