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Say NoNo to ClassDojo

I read earlier this week about a new website and app called ClassDojo that allows teachers to communicate instantaneously with parents over their smart phones about what’s happening with their kids at school, alerting them if little Alberto’s desk is messy at 8:49 a.m. or if Isabel isn’t staying on task after lunch hour.

ClassDojo goes deeper than simply showing whether a child had a good or bad day. Each student’s report includes time-stamped information about her ups and downs each day.

"By lunchtime, I can already see what kind of morning he had," one Florida parent bragged in the story

I know technology has opened up very cool possibilities for communication and I know that staying on top of your kid is important, but I have to tell you: This is a very bad idea.

TMI. Too Much Information. 

We are not meant to know that much about any single human being, even our own flesh and blood. 

I already can track my child’s whereabouts using a locator on her iPhone and can check her grades on every piece of homework and every test via a parent online portal set up by Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Do I really want to be alerted every time she drifts off in class or gets caught passing notes with her best friend?

Seriously, can’t a kid screw up sometimes without her parents knowing it?

I’m not advocating ignorance or parental neglect. I’m not talking about serious rule-breaking. If my daughter is flunking, sucking face between classes or skipping school, of course I want to know. Please leave a message at the beep or send me a meeting invite.

Just kidding. Of course. Kind of. 

I’d just like to point out that there is a reason the umbilical cord gets cut at birth. We all deserve a shot at becoming individuals. 

An app like this isn’t an aid for helicopter parents. It pushes the whole hovering habit into a pure parasitic relationship, with the child never leaving the host. 

Kids need a chance to build their own character, make their own mistakes and figure out how to fix them without an app like ClassDojo seriously hampering their developmental mojo. 

How can my kid learn to be independent if I’m constantly breathing down the sweat-stained polo collar of her school uniform?

It's bad enough that I have to witness every mistake my child makes on social media. Now I have to be told in real time about all the ones she makes in real life, too? 

I’m no teacher, but this doesn’t sound like such a good idea for them, either. Who has time to carry a phone around class to input data, add and subtract points for each kid in class? Isn’t that time better spent on actual teaching and learning? Seems like teachers would be better at classroom management if they didn’t have to report to all parents about what’s going on inside those four walls at all times. 

I’m sure there are parents some teachers would love to enlighten about their little darlings’ bratty behavior, but pinging these moms and dads on an app doesn’t seem healthy or likely to solve the problem.

Plus, isn’t there some kind of double jeopardy going on here when a kid gets in trouble at school, then gets slammed again by an irate parent who keeps getting Dojo alerts all day? D’oh! 

I’m sure in the right, positive, patient, creative hands, this could be an effective behavior management tool. I’m just not convinced there are many hands like that out there. 

I may be too late. Hundreds of thousands of teachers worldwide are already using ClassDojo, according to the website. Forbes ranks it on America’s Most Promising Companies List. 

But I could have saved the creation cost of $75,000, not to mention the $1.6 million raised in venture funding, by reminding Dojo designers that many parents already have the best behavior management tool out there. It’s seasonal, somewhat religious and only effective under the age of 12, but it’s a lot more powerful than a pissed off parent. 

It’s the one line that still stops most kids in their tracks, and it doesn’t cost a dime. 

“Remember, you better be good – SANTA IS WATCHING.”