MobileBeat ran a story yesterday on a new start-up called I’mOK. The company was founded in October 2010, driven by the idea that they could use technology to improve family life and the quality of the communication we have with our kids.
Parents want their kids to check in with them wherever they are. But kids usually forget. That annoys parents and will often get the kids grounded.
Matthew Bromberg figured there was a better way to keep kids connected to their parents, without the nagging. Bromberg founded I’mOK, a startup that has created a mobile app designed to reward kids for staying in touch. If it catches on, it could tap into the market of devices aimed at reassuring parents about the safety of their children.
The company has raised $250,000 from Bromberg, former chief executive of tournament gaming firm Major League Gaming, and two angels: Allen Debevoise, CEO of Machinima.com, and Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president of mobile and international at Facebook.
The basic premise is that parents and kids agree a reward structure for kids to keep in contact using their smart phones. The more detailed information kids give, the quicker they will get their rewards. So rather than just a quick text saying “I’m OK” (or something like “i kk!!!1!” if my kids are similar to yours), kids are encouraged to actually impart information about where they are and what they are doing.
I sat down last night with my teenage son and discussed this, unsurprisingly his initial reaction was somewhat sceptical, however once he understood the reward mechanism he seemed willing to give it a shot.
I’mOK is now in private beta testing. Click here to request an invite to their beta program. I am about to head over and sign us up, although we may have to wait for a while as the company are currently only supporting the iPhone platform and as my kids can not afford iPhones on their pocket money, we will have to wait until they release an Android version. The company do state that Android, Blackberry, and Windows OS testers are also welcome to sign up as they are busy working on apps for those platforms.
I think their is an interesting debate to be had around providing extrinsic rewards to our kids to recognise “good behaviour” as opposed to relying on them to intrinsically be driven to communicate with us. I, for one, will opt on the side of peace of mind, especially once my daughter hits the teenage years! But I do wonder what Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (a fantastic and highly recommended book) would say…