Skip the App for Children's Chores


We need to train our kids to be good citizens by teaching them about contribution, not entitlement.

Full disclosure in four parts: First, I am not a tech-savvy person and never intend to become one. Second, I am convinced that the less technology, the better the life. Third, the technology in my life consists of a laptop, basic cellphone, stereo system, DVD player, flat-screen television, ROKU and a digital video recorder. Fourth, I do not believe children should have cellphones until they are able to take full responsibility for them, including paying the monthly bill.

I recently ran across news of technology available as "apps" for mobile phones and tablet computers that entice children to do household chores. I'm not going to list them, because I don't want to appear to be endorsing them. In fact, I am dis-endorsing them.

One of these products was named "Best Parenting App" of 2011. Parents create a list of chores, responsibilities and desired behavior for the child in question and assign point values to each. Points are then exchanged for rewards. The other programs are variations on the same theme in that they make a game out of doing chores and result in children receiving rewards for becoming Housework Heroes.

This is what I call Parenting of the Absurd.

First, a family is the most fundamental of social groupings. The family, not the individual, is the building block of a functional society. As such, family is the training ground for citizenship. Good citizenship is defined by contribution, not entitlement. Therefore, children should be contributing members of their families. The most meaningful way they can contribute is by doing their fair share of the work that must be done to keep the home clean, tidy and otherwise habitable.

A child should do chores because his parents tell him to do them, period. There should be no rewards for this other than the reward of being a member of a family that is blessed to live in a family dwelling that affords protection from weather and critters, and within which there is lots of love and good food.

On the other hand, if the child fails to do his chores, then he should pay a price of some sort. That's what happens in Real World, and remember, this is all about helping children learn about Real World.

In summary, these apps are the antithesis of what "family" means.

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