If your kid says, “The watch made me do it,” that’s a good thing as long as the watch is the Octopus, a bit of wearable technology that helps kids form good habits and understand how they should be spending their time. Like an old-fashioned wristwatch, the Octopus also teaches kids to tell time.
Using icon-based reminders that parents can set and send from their own phone, the Octopus reminds kids to do things like brush their teeth, tidy their rooms or set the table for dinner. Suddenly arguing, negotiations and whining are taken out of the equation. A neutral icon pops up on the screen, and kids know it’s time to do the task.
Why would they listen to a watch? The Octopus helps them learn they’ve got an important role in the family, and that they’re autonomous little people. That sense of independence helps them take pride in their tasks, which leads them to listen to the watch, even if they don’t listen well to mum or dad.
The Octopus has three modes, each one adapted for different stages of development. The first mode helps them understand time by association. An icon is displayed on the watch, and they know it’s almost dinner. Modes two and three help kids learn to read digital and then analogue clocks.
The Octopus app evolves as your kids grow, and gives templates for routines based on age or needs. Syncing happens via Bluetooth, and activities are recorded in the watch’s memory so the system can track progress.
Naturally it’s best to start out slow, giving kids one or two regular tasks per day. When a task moves into the realm of habit, a new one can be introduced.
I’d start with something like bathtime, which is a point of baffling contention in my house. The call for baths has my kids arguing with me like little lawyers, but as soon as they get in, they’re as happy as clams. The Octopus is waterproof against things like handwashing or a bit of rain, but it can’t be worn in the bath, which means I’ll still have the fight to get them out. Can’t win ‘em all.
The Octopus is selling quickly on Kickstarter, with many of the early bird deals gone. You can still get an Octopus for $79 or two for $157, and both pledge packages come with watches, a charging cable and the app. Delivery is planned for March 2017.