Pulling a child away from an X-Box to clean her room or take out the trash can be, well...a chore. But what if the key to getting kids to handle their own household responsibilities came neatly packaged in electronic game form?
Enter a slew of apps for mobile phones, iPads and the web that make charts and stickers seem oh so passé.
While each program has different perks -- some morph your children into chore-battling avatars! -- they all make the daily grind of getting tasks done a lot smoother and, dare we say it, fun.
Vote on the high-tech options we’ve found below and let us know about any apps we’ve missed in the comments!
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android Cost: LITE version -- supports one child and four tasks -- available for free. Unlimited is $3.99 iReward Chart, winner of the "Best Parenting App" award at MacWorld 2011, is an incentives based to-do list that will have your children scrambling to be on their best behavior. Create a list of tasks for your children by choosing from categories that include chores (clearing the table), responsibilities (brushing teeth) and behavior (not talking back) -- Or, create your own assignment i.e. Try to eat something that isn't a chicken nugget! Kids get gold stars (which gives them points) if they complete a chore and red stars (which subtracts points) if they forget to clear the table. You decide how many points it takes to get a prize (for example, 25 stars could be worth a night out bowling , 500 stars -- a trip to a theme park). It's up to your children when they want to cash in.
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad Cost: $2.99 Are you a Chore Hero or a Delinquent? Find out on the Chore Hero app. The program lists mom, dad and the kids' tasks for each day and doles out points based on whether or not they're completed -- the harder the task, the more it's worth. Plus, taking a tip from Pandora, Chore Hero also has a randomization option. In other words, the app will assign one member of the family to finish up a particular undesirable chore. Which means the days of asking, "Who's turn is it to take out the trash this week?" are over. Chore Hero ranks the chore leaders of the day, and also has an easy-to-access weekly so anyone can see his or her upcoming tasks.
Available on: Web-based now, iPhone/iPod/iPad, available shortly. Cost: Free To get started, type in HuffPost as your invite code High Score House is one of the most easy-to-use programs out of all the chore apps. The computer game takes place in the setting of the house. The parents' area (guarded by an intense-looking padlock -- you're only granted access if you remember your pin code) is the control center in which mom and dad assign tasks, provide deadlines and devise rewards. Each child has his or her own "bedroom" where they view task lists, check off chores they've done, and pick their prize from a machine. The High Score House creators told HuffPost that they are currently creating on a phone app for the program. Other things to look forward to: kids will be able to decorate their own virtual rooms.
Available on: Android Cost: FREE version tracks one child's progress. Chore Master Pro allows for unlimited profiles and costs around $3.97 (2.99 Euros). Chore Master turns doing the dishes or folding laundry into a family competition. Each family member uploads a picture of him or herself and signs into the program. After parents have created the week's chore list, children log on and complete a task. So what makes the app fun? A built-in timer. When a user is about to start taking out the trash, she starts the clock. Each "player" starts out as a Newbie and works up to Chore Master.
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad Cost: $2.99 Epic Win is a to-do list turned Role Playing Game (RPG). "Players" choose an avatar character they want to be as they conquer their chores. Each player's stats improve based on what tasks are completed -- there's intellect (homework), strength (taking out the trash), etc. Apart from improving your score, incentives also include finding loot (like the "Helmet of Slight Desire") throughout the game -- a nice alternative to trinkets that the parent must provide. While the app isn't specifically geared towards children -- a Treeman avatar can head butt an overflowing inbox that you need to clean up -- your kids will probably get a kick out of the characters and graphics.