ParentingSoftware DevelopmentTechnology

Can Blockchain get kids to do their chores?

Everyone is talking about Blockchain. As the technology that powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the idea of a decentralized distributed secure ledger has struck a chord with those in a wide variety of industries. The secure and distributed nature of blockchain is being explored for usages in payments, legal contracts, and even health care. Chances are your bank is already dabbling in the technology. But the hardest challenge for blockchain yet might be getting kids to do their chores.

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The first application of the blockchain was powering the digital currency bitcoin. The blockchain is a sophisticated ledger system in which a link, or chain of transactions, each referred to as a block, is stored across all users of the chain. For bitcoin, this chain exists across over 200,000 computers in the network. Every time a new transaction is made, it gets signed cryptographically to prove that the person making the transaction is the actual owner of the assets, in this case the bitcoin. It isn’t possible to use the coins more than once as everyone in the network knows about the transaction and has it signed.

The network itself becomes self verifying in that it tracks each unit of the virtual currency and prevents unauthorized transactions. Because each node is storing the ledger, any unauthorized changes can quickly be verified and restored to the right state. As a result, no user has to actually trust any other user, the system itself prevents cheating.

The largest use-case for the blockchain is bitcoin, but a ton of other uses have also been developed on this distributed, secure ledger technology. Etherium is an attempt to create a platform for any use of blockchain. Many banks have begun experiments with tracking transactions in blockchains. Some mortgage companies and credit unions have also launched secure contracting systems on blockchain, using the secure and verified trust that forms the backbone of the technology to ensure transactions remain secure and verified.

Kids don’t love doing chores. They will fight and yell to avoid doing them. They may hide or run away from their assigned chores. Bribing, yelling, and cajoling work sometimes, but not all the time. But kids love being rewarded and they love technology. Pairing the two, provides parents a way to motivate their kids, but prevent them from cheating at chores with blockchain. By utilizing the secure ledger, parents can offer rewards like allowance, access to games or screen time, or for studious kids, get reading time.

Numerous blockchain platforms allow parents to easily create their own chain and set it up with the transactions. For this, a transaction entails a chore action and the reward. The contract can also be defined within the system, ensuring that the chore is performed fully and adequately and that the reward is actually earned. It’s important to clearly define both the definition of completion for the chore to make sure it’s done and the reward parameters to ensure they aren’t overused or abused.

For example, a contract might stipulate fully mowing the entire backyard, subject to inspection, or practicing a musical instrument for 30 minutes without interruption. The reward can be defined as 30 minutes with a book, getting a new game the next visit to the mall, or one episode of a show. Some blockchains will even integrate with platforms like Youtube and games to limit the reward to match the contract to really automate things. It can feel a bit draconian, but the system provides this structure and definition by design so it can be used to ensure everyone’s expectations are fully met. It’s better to have an agreement on the contract before entering it than arguments about it after.

This kind of well defined contract helps build trust between participants. Parents know that the chore will be performed fully and to their satisfaction while children know exactly what is expected of them and what they will get as a reward for performing the chore. This matched expectation and agreement is the basis of shared trust and prevents disputes and fights. Children often need this detailed structure to know the boundaries and what is expected of them. The blockchain provides an automated framework around this, making the contract and reward simple yet secure.

The blockchain also provides a secure and robust way to track chores. Families with multiple members can track who is assigned what chore for the week, bringing a modern take on the chore charts of old. They can also see who’s done what and when, keeping track of who is really pulling their weight in the house. Parents need never worry about remembering who last fed the fish if they utilize a shared blockchain.

Not every child needs a system as heavy handed as this. Some understand that chores are a necessary part of adult life and that performing them provides value and earns trust with their parents. Most however, do not, and rage against doing the smallest chore. By leveraging the power of the blockchain and the incredible yet straightforward technology behind it, parents can provide a secure and fair transaction system for their children and provide chore tracking for the whole family. The blockchain may have brought us bitcoin, but the real place it will change the world is with incentivizing children to actually do their chores.