News

App takes (some of) the nagging out of chores

 
David Steinlicht / MCT

Minneapolis Star Tribune

With school out, most parents, noting their young ones’ ample free time, will bust out a list of chores: Cut the grass, walk the dog, empty and load the dishwasher.

Then, in many households, the to-dos won’t get done. The nagging will commence.

Enter the FamDoo.

It’s an app and website created to make chores and allowance-giving easier for parents and kids alike.

Families create an account and parents pick a custom list of chores for the kids. Everyone can track progress through photos and private messages. Once chores are done, parents can dole out points.

If parents opt to put real money on the app, the points are redeemable for cash, gift cards and charitable donations. If not, points can accumulate toward other kinds of rewards, say a trip to the zoo.

“I thought if we could take the old manual allowance system and turn it into a digital tool, so that kids could participate in the environment in which they are comfortable, that maybe we could bring the whole concept of allowance into the modern age,” said Mark Lacek, who co-founded FamDoo with his wife, Susan.

Since launching online and becoming available for Apple devices in January, FamDoo has gained more than 10,000 members. The company added an Android version in May.

The app is free, but FamDoo charges a $2 fee when parents purchase points with a credit card or by exchanging U.S. BankFlexPoints.

Lacek, who has made a career out of loyalty programs, including Northwest Airlines’ frequent-flier program, said rewards help kids establish habits.

With an incentive to complete the task, Lacek said, “The nagging just starts to go away.”

Carol Bruess, professor of family communication University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., is a fan.

She gave FamDoo some feedback as they were developing the app, and is particularly pleased to see that some of the “tasks” are more like conversation starters. For instance, there are in-app lessons on financial literacy and short readings about honesty.

“You might be getting points for cleaning a room or you might be assigning 30 percent of your points to giving, saving and spending — let’s talk about how that feels,” Bruess said.

She has used FamDoo with her 14-year-old daughter, Gracie. In exchange for a few regular household chores, Gracie earns points toward Amazon gift cards to spend on books.

But it’s important to remember that ultimately parents need to be teaching, not leaning on an app for everything, she said.

“There is no digital tool that’s going to solve all of our parenting problems,” Bruess said. “FamDoo, I think, can assist when used mindfully.”

Miami Herald

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