by Ailene Azzam
I am writing this blog/story to share my experiences in launching my first app. My goal is to receive feedback from the teacher and parent communities. I launched a Kickstarter program to raise funds to help me take ShaBAM Parenting to the next level!
HOW IT WORKS
ShaBAM leverages children's obsession with screen time to incentivize them to take care of their teeth/chores. In simple terms, we gamify access to smart devices by making such access contingent upon brushing and flossing/performing chores. Access to smart devices is blocked until children demonstrate to their parents they have brushed and flossed their teeth.
Currently, we have several families who are piloting ShaBAM and the feedback is extremely encouraging. We have a grandma who was so impressed that she asked us to get her grandchildren in another State on ShaBAM.
This summer she added her 3-year-old grandson to ShaBAM; he is our youngest user to date!
Laura: “Thanks so much for taking the time to visit us today. ShaBAM is up and running in our household!!! The kids are enjoying earning time for their smart devices! I am enjoying all the help I am getting from them.”
Jill: Such a great program you have put together. My son said, "I have been begging for this in my dreams and I am going to behave now that I have my own tablet."
“ShaBAM shapes other behaviors as we demonstrate in our video, but we are focused on dental hygiene for a number of reasons”
- Sugar makes up 15% of the daily calories consumed by kids
- A third of all children starting school each year have signs of tooth decay
- Children spend more than 2 hours a day with screen media
At the encouragement of my family and close friends, I launched a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform that enables people interested in a project to fund it. Initially, I was overwhelmed with all the requirements and suggestions from the Kickstarter site but eventually, I settled on a story that was comfortable to me. I found the process very helpful with formulating my initial messaging and marketing themes.
To date, I am thrilled with the results and overwhelmed by the support ShaBAM has received. I hit my goal with one week left in the 30-day campaign. Originally, I had budgeted money for a professional social media consultant but now I can take that money to further advance the technology because I found this blog. I have been personally funding ShaBAM as I believe in its power and benefits to society.
Inspired by a behavior tracking tool and a learning technology funded by the National Science Foundation, I have spent the last year developing ShaBAM. The behavior tracking tool creates a digital architecture for monitoring children's behavior in the classroom. The second uses access to recreational screen time to motivate kids to solve math problems.
The behavior-tracking tool helped me focus on the positive and create an environment where MY behavior always matters. In order to get my students to be their best. I had to immediately and consistently acknowledge their behavior. The more positive behavior I acknowledged the more positive my students’ behaviors became, and the learning environment excelled. Bottom line, it took a behavior tracking tool for me to realize that I was disciplining my students more than I was praising them at an embarrassingly low ratio. The day I started forcing myself to track my own "praise ratio" so I can hit the 4 to 1 (4 positives to 1 constructive criticism) was the day my teaching life changed. I found my students following the classroom rules, treating each other with respect, and creating a positive learning environment.
With the learning technology, I realized the amazing power of screen time as a reward for kids. Giving kids access to screen time for games they already know and love as a reward does a few amazing things. It gives them a locus of control and it incentivizes them to learn in order to receive a reward. I am not sure I get all the science, but I know it works and the National Science Foundation thinks so too.
Bam! It Came To Me
One day while talking to the founder of eCarrot (the learning technology) who was asking me about the challenges of introducing apps from the app store into the classroom, I joked that he wouldn't have to worry about getting into schools if he combined his rewards with behavior tracking because that would give parents the same success at home as they witness in my classroom...and ShaBAM was born.