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Video: Beta babysitting website spreads to major US cities, uses social networks to connect families and sitters

Giving a child glitter, construction paper and glue might be a no-fail way to keep kids occupied….

But this gathering is less about the children and more about parents watching the ways in which potential babysitters get along with their kids.

It’s an in-person meeting for an online marketplace that connects babysitters and parents. The idea may not be new, but beta-version UrbanSitter.com aims to do what other babysitting sites have not done—using a Facebook Connect feature that lets you see if sitters parents are considering have ever worked for friends.

Sitters can be booked directly through the site, soon enough, be paid through the site, and each party will be able to review the other.

“So important that it be quick”

Co-founder Lynn Perkins thought of the idea after wondering why she couldn’t find a sitter with an app as quickly as she could with restaurant reservation site, OpenTable.

The site launched last summer after Lynn found 40 sitters and 40 families willing to sign up in the San Francisco Bay area.

Occasional gatherings like this through the site help parents get to know sitters before booking them. Though this one, at Lynn’s house, is mostly full of friends. Still they say, in the time they’ve used the site, it’s gotten better at working out response time gaps between sitters and parents, because its developers added a text messaging feature.

The app for UrbanSitter is currently being designed.

UrbanSitter just spread to other cities in the U.S. last month, opening in Seattle, San Diego, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago and New York City.

In San Francisco, Kerry Davis, IDG News Service.

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