Monday, January 30, 2012
Tech review: Dallas dads debut iPhone app to get kids to do chores
Sounds impossible, but we tested it out with good results.
Ask most parents and they will tell you that getting their children to do their chores, without nagging them into a near stupor, is about as easy as getting paint to dry … in the rain. If you feel the same way, check out You Rule, designed by two Dallas dads. This interactive chore app will help you get the chores list organized and convince the kiddos that doing chores is fun -- or, at least, not so bad.
We know what you're thinking: Great, another corny app that wants to tell me how to organize my life. On the contrary, as I have discovered — along with my 11-year old daughter — the app is actually a pretty nifty tool for organizing household chores, as well as other family to-do lists.
Created by local app development studio Opposite Inc. and recommended for kids ages 5-11, You Rule sets out to teach kids that doing chores on time can be fun, while giving them the opportunity to earn some virtual swag at the same time. The app is available only at the App Store (no Android) for $3.99. Parents can organize, monitor, and motivate their kids to complete household chores. For now, the company recommends downloading the app to a parent’s iPhone or iPad — though a syncing feature, which will enable multiple devices to operate from the same account, is expected later in the spring. From there, you can set up the chores list, (help) kids create their wish list, and then it’s time to get to work — literally.
Each week it’s a mad dash to the finish line, as kids race to complete the most chores the quickest. Along the way, they earn virtual coins which can be turned in for real life rewards, such as allowance or television time. Because of the competitive premise of the game, having more than one child is definitely an advantage. As I discovered with my daughter, having just one player was certainly not as motivating as the intended multi-player action. After all, it is no fun racing yourself. Though the game does not currently support it, co-creator Brian Linder shared the possibility of a player versus the computer module, a bright idea that he actually got from a parent user. In the meantime, he suggests that parents create their own “chores” lists and join their only child.
Linder says that he had become fed up with having to force his kids to stop playing video games and just do their gosh-darn chores. As the father of two boys, ages seven and 10, Linder finally gave into the idea, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” So, he set out to create an app that would motivate his kids to want to contribute to the household responsibilities. At the same time, he realized that whatever it was, it would have to be engaging, as well as look and sound like the games that his children had become accustomed to.
Since the release of the game, Linder says that the company has received positive feedback. “Parents are blown away, because they no longer have to nag,” he says. "Both kids and parents are really seeing the child’s potential."
Though the app comes pre-loaded with a basic chores list, parents can customize the list according to family preferences. This is definitely a plus. After kiddos have checked off their list each day, parents are then given the chance to approve chores.
Though the set-up and monitoring is much more efficient than traditional methods, it still requires some work on the parent’s part. “If anything,” Linder says, “It forces more engagement.”
We'll take his advice: “You can spend 15 minutes on rewarding and follow up, or you can spend it nagging.”
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