How Gamification Is Changing Chores and Homework



  • ChoreMonster uses a digital gamification model to engage children in household chores
  • Their developers use a cloud-based reporting tool to measure success and introduce new features

How an app teaches Gen Z responsibility, one reward at a time

You see the charts hanging on the refrigerator of most families with young kids. Sometimes chore charts are adorned with gold stars, or maybe super hero stickers, as the reward. But the goal is the same—to make chores less stressful and more rewarding. However, as technology has made its way into everyone’s pockets, families have a new option. Instead of battling over chores or decorating their kitchen with gold stars, families can use gamification through chore-tracking apps such as ChoreMonster. 

Making a difference one chore at a time

The idea for ChoreMonster was born when Chris Bergman saw the son of his coworker, Paul Armstrong, engaged with colorful monsters that Armstrong had drawn. Bergman decided to see whether he and Armstrong could design an app to make chores more fun for families. Today, ChoreMonster allows parents to set up chores and assign rewards, and the kids earn points for every chore they finish.

“The kid sees that ‘OK, well, if I brush my teeth I get two points. If I sweep the floor in the kitchen I get 10 points.’ There’s also that concept of enabling the kids to make choices about what they want to do,” says Ben Stafford, chief technical officer at ChoreMonster. “We then use gamification so that for every point they spin a carnival wheel in the app for the chance to win a monster. Kids who don’t want to spin a wheel can also turn in their points to unlock a monster.”

Families can access the free app on whatever device they choose—desktop, tablet or smartphone—and ChoreMonster runs on both iOS and Android. Stafford says that they decided to make the app available on multiple devices as well as a website browser version after realizing that most families have multiple devices and that kids often get their parents’ hand-me-down smartphones.

The team at ChoreMonster never tires of hearing how their relatively simple app has changed their families. Stafford says that they hear from a lot of parents who tell them things like, “The dishwasher was loaded before I even had a chance to make breakfast.”

“One of our favorite stories was from a single mom who said that life was chaotic in their home, but using ChoreMonster really solved one source of chaos in her life,” says Stafford.

Data analytics drives ChoreMonster’s design decisions

The app is developed using rapid web development on the open source rails cloud-based platform. “We're not doing web development and then packing these up to run as a mobile app. We're doing native-app development on those specific platforms,” says Stafford. “The way we've approached mobile development is that each platform has its nuances, and we want our app to feel like it belongs on that environment.”

Instead of relying on customer feedback or wondering what is working well for families using ChoreMonster, Stafford and his team use data analytics to make improvements and add new features.

Currently, the team uses a cloud-based external data tool for both collecting data events and generating reports. Stafford says that they have a solid feel for user engagement based on the number of users who have created specific numbers of chores over the last month. “We know that once a family has created three chores that they are very likely to stick around and be long-term users,” Stafford says.

The team used data to create an effective onboarding process after their first attempt wasn’t intuitive enough for parents. A few years ago, Bergman says that the data showed that parents were signing up for the app but never actually completing a chore. After looking at their own data and researching expert information on onboarding, the team added setting up the first child and the first chore into the registration process. “That was a pretty big case for us as far as using our analytics data to improve our onboarding and get people to that first completed chore faster and more easily,” says Stafford.

Are gold stars gone forever?

Will generations grow up without getting a physical sticker or star or checkmark for feeding the dog or taking out the trash? It’s possible. There is no reason to believe that our reliance on technology will slow down any time soon, especially with the younger generation. Stafford says that his team is seeing more and more kids using apps in their daily lives, and he thinks that this trend will only continue, with families becoming dependent on apps such as ChoreMonster. So maybe one day we will see the paper chore chart hanging in a museum as a relic from the past.