In his book, Stop Killing Dreams, Seth Godin gives an example of how the idea of points appeals to our children:
Years ago, five friends and a I were put in charge of a 150 rowdy fifth-graders for a long weekend up in Canada. It was almost impossible to be heard over the din – until I stumbled onto the solution. All we had to say was, “points will be deducted,” and compliance appeared. There weren’t any points and there wasn’t any prize, but merely the threat of lost points was sufficient.
Godin discusses this in the context of being institutionalized by public school, however, even though my children are home schooled, the idea of points still appeals to them – it seem like they’ll do anything for them….even if there is no accounting system and no reward.
In a way, this is how ChoreMonster has motivated my kids to do chores – chores for points and a system to track how many points they have. After introducing them to the system they took off – doing what was on the list then asking for more chores (yes, I said that, they ask for chores). The odd thing is, we’ve not entered any rewards so all they are getting is points and that’s okay with them.
Parents log-in (web only) to a dashboard where they can create chores and approve chores that have completed, set rewards, and edit their children’s information. ChoreMonster has some predefined chores but also allows you to create your own. Parents choose how much each chore is worth and how often it reoccurs.
Another section allows parents to enter rewards – this is totally custom allowing you to tailor it to your child.
Children can access their dashboard through the web or the mobil app. Once in their dashboard they can see what chores are assigned and check off the ones that are completed (parents must confirm completion for points to be awarded). Children can then use their points to earn the pre-defined rewards.
ChoreMonster also has 250 virtual monsters which children earn at random when they complete chores.
Pros and Cons
- As I mentioned, kids are crazy for points. The point system is a definite pro.
- Random incentives tend to be more powerful than planned ones so I’ll also add the randomness of the monsters as a pro.
- One area where we have problems is the need for the child to log in. My 6 year old has trouble remembering his password. I don’t have any alternate suggestions, but this is a small con for us.
- Children are also able to mark a task done multiple times while waiting for approval – perhaps this will be addressed in updates.
- The biggest con for me is that it is “do this and get that” system, which, as I mentioned last week, is only a short term fix for motivation and may do more harm than good.
The designers of ChoreMonster have a number of planned upgrades including the ability to play games with the monsters, integrate rewards with Amazon wish lists and have the full experience on a mobile device.
My hope is that they will also allow parents to explore the idea of game theory by, in addition to random monsters, permitting random points for tasks.
As of this writing, ChoreMonster is still in closed beta. However, there seems to be a number of access codes to get invites. I used ‘kidmin’ to get access, perhaps it will still work.