The Nanny, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are Going Online

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, video calls have been our solution to overcoming isolation. Whether it’s a work meeting, a family gathering or a blind date, everything has now been made virtual to allow us a semblance of social interaction while keeping ourselves safely physically distanced from one another.

The stress that has risen from the collision of personal and private lives in the same household is something we can all relate to. It’s difficult to focus and stay motivated while working at home, especially when your family members pose numerous distractions. Sometimes we just need the space to focus on one thing at a time and keep our work and family lives separate from each other.

Nanny-cam for actual nannying

As the US experiences continuous surges in cases of coronavirus, Americans are highly encouraged to stay at home as much as they can. Parents are working from home most of the time now, and children are taking their classes online as well. Most childcare centres have also been closed to ensure children minimise contact with others beyond their household. Working parents have thus had to adapt to the COVID-19 situation by finding new ways to entertain their young children and keep them occupied while they work from home.

Many parents have therefore found their solution to this dilemma in virtual nannies. These virtual nannies range from registered professionals to your regular babysitter, and their job is to keep the child entertained via the computer screen for each session with lesson plans and activities such as storytelling, games and chats, similar to what the kids do in their kindergarten classes. The service is designed for someone to keep the children occupied while mum and dad get their work done in the same house, in a different room from their children.

Despite its growing popularity, Richard Conway, the founder of said that when he first came up with the idea, the responses he got were far from positive. Before the lockdown, many were appalled at the notion of leaving their children alone at home while they were at work.

However, as lockdown persisted, demand for the service rose. There are now more than 4,000 virtual nannies available via Conway’s website, and more than 50,000 parents have inquired about the service.

Easter Bunny has already hopped onboard

While many were not too keen on the virtual nanny idea, parents were totally on board with the Easter bunny finding its way around quarantine life.

With malls closed, Easter egg hunts and bunny photo traditions cancelled earlier this year, many mall bunnies were out of work this year. Instead, to mark the start of the spring season, these festivities were replaced with virtual visits from the Easter Bunny itself.

Armed with an iPhone, and a Bluetooth speaker playing the song “Here comes Peter Cottontail”, Bernadette Shallow, 30, made dozens of FaceTime calls a day to hopeful children all throughout the Easter season. Shallow enjoyed dressing up as her bunny persona, “EB” because it gave the children “a little bit of joy in a two- to three-minute FaceTime conversation”.

And Shallow wasn’t the only Easter bunny around during the pandemic. On her Easter Bunny’s Burrow Facebook page, Debbie DeSantis, a former mall bunny, filmed videos for children in her Easter bunny suit.

Despite the pandemic, the Easter bunny found its way down the virtual rabbit hole to kids after all.

Santa’s not coming down the chimney

With the popularity of the Easter bunny taking over screens, it was only time that Santa Claus would join in the virtual fun. Like the Easter bunny, Santa Claus won’t be at malls this year. And because of safe distancing, he’s doing the right thing by staying in the North Pole this year too.

For the first time ever, Mr and Mrs Claus are paying virtual visits to numerous kids through Zoom conference calls.

Don White, 79, and Mary Rogers, 73, are two of many actors who have traded in-person Santa visits this year for Zoom calls, offering families a safer alternative to the annual mall Santa tradition in the US.

As desperate as parents are to keep their children engaged during the holiday season, the high demand has resulted in several remote Santa companies popping up. As they primarily work with senior citizens, the main focus of these companies has been to reskill their Santas, making them adjust comfortably to the Zoom system.

Mr Claus, or White, a veteran Santa who frequented restaurants, museums and events in the past, says that the virtual experience actually enhances the connection between Santa and child. According to White, when kids are seated on Santa’s lap at events, there is little eye contact, for the sake of time and taking photos.

With the virtual calls, parents can send talking points to the virtual Santa ahead of appointments. This feature, offered by many remote Santa services this year, makes the conversation with the children that much easier to carry, and the all-knowing Santa that much more believable.

Even though Zoom can’t replicate the same connections we get from physical touch and face-to-face conversations, it’s the closest thing to social interaction we can get at the moment.

Like it or not, Generation Alpha is going to grow up doing and experiencing things very differently than we do, in unconventional ways. But it’s the best parents can do to help their kids stay in touch with family and holiday traditions, and get to enjoy their childhoods during such unconventional times.


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