You betcha! B.F. Skinner, the father of psychology’s behaviorist movement, would be giving electronics manufacturers the high five right now. It turns out that 1) kids like working for rewards and 2) technology is a really good motivator. A few examples…
Zazoo Kids Alarm Clock: Do your kids wake up at 6AM on Saturday morning believing you should be up too? Do they hop out of bed before the naptime whistle? Zazoo’s charming little alarm clock ($89) helps retrain little bed-jumpers by offering four different sets of background images that tell your child it’s ok to “get up” or time to “stay put”. A moon and dark background say “stay asleep” while bright sunny sunshine says “rise and shine”.
The clock doubles as a digital photo frame, and can play video clips and music – and you can set it so the kids wake up to anything from your voice to their favorite song or video. It has both USB and SD inputs so it can really serve as a little one’s first multimedia machine. The only caveat is that it’s not a touch screen. Parents will have to use a system of menu and arrow buttons on the back of the clock (much like a traditional alarm clock) to set it appropriately.
GeoPalz could be the best-kept secret on the planet. It’s a $25 pedometer made especially for kids. It comes in all sorts of fun designs like flowers, peace signs, and devils, and is made to be worn on shoes, belts, a pocket, wherever. Each GeoPalz has a unique serial number – kids go about their day, rack up the steps, and when they log onto the GeoPalz website, there’s a payoff. For every step walked, they gain points for prizes. And the prizes are from places the kids love like Target, REI, Xbox Live and others. There are games and challenges, and (of course) a virtual world to explore. Rewards for exercise are a good way to start building a kid’s consciousness about how exercise makes them feel.
Tykoon is a website created to encourage children’s financial literacy. Assign your kids chores or assignments with the opportunity to earn some type of reward. Each task is assigned a frequency by the parents and then checked off when the task is done. Parents can pay cold hard cash or they can decide on a reward system like staying up late or watching a TV program if they’d rather.
Kids are encouraged to set long and short term goals – college, an ice cream, a charity gift – it’s all there for your family to choose how to allot. As your children saves, a graphical view displays how they’re progressing toward their goal. Many parents will take advantage of the “Giving” part of the site to ingrain the importance of charitable giving (the sites partners include Make a Wish, ASPCA, Toys for Tots and others). And of course they get to spend. The site is also a kid’s “shopping mall” (parents need to ok the purchase) filled with kid friendly items from bicycles to video games.
Of course anytime the “bank” is right next to the “store”, you might wind up with the whining tyke-oon, but this is a site that lets families discuss their financial beliefs and gives them the tools to instill those beliefs in their children.
BF Skinner would be smiling from his grave to know that his reward theory for behavior modification is alive and well in the digital age.