Smart Apps for Social Good

posted by TAG Guest Blogger

October 3, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

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How many of you have downloaded apps on your smart phone or iPad for your children? The limits to how we can use smart phones seem endless, especially when we watch our kids with them. We use apps for entertainment, socializing, music, travel and weather. Hours may pass with merely a couple of glances away from the tiny screen that lets us video chat, get directions to the mall and check gas prices.

Philanthropic plans, it turns out, can be put into motion just as seamlessly through apps and smart devices. Here are two mobile applications and an iPad app that make giving and social change as easy as leaving comments on a friend’s Facebook status.

Pay It Forward

How it works: Remember that movie with the adorable Haley Joel Osment? This app is a less sad version of that. Download Pay It Forward, and the app will send a push notification once a week at a random time of day, suggesting an act of kindness like, “Invite the person in line behind you at the grocery to go in front of you.” After you’ve completed a task, you mark it as ‘paid’ and begin to advance through the levels of good deeds.

Why it’s great: You and your kids can be a good deeds team. Let them in on how the app works. They’ll be eager to help with new tasks, and you can track the progress you’ve made by viewing all the tasks that you’ve received and completed on the app.

*Bonus: The app accepts suggestions of new good deeds- tell your kids! They’ll be eager to know that their own ideas are helping others, especially after they see the faces of the people they help.

Volunteer Match

How it works: VolunteerMatch is an app by the organization, Volunteer Match that makes it easy to get involved with your perfect volunteer opportunity. The advanced search covers all the bases. You can use either your current location or a ZIP code to search. If you can’t go anywhere but still want to help out a cause, you can also search for virtual opportunities. Opportunities can be filtered further by keywords and skills, date and by age-specific or group work. You can then search the results by distance from a location, date posted or the event date. Once you find a project you’re excited about, you can map the directions and add it to your list of projects.

Why it’s great: With a wealth of projects in its database and extensive advanced search tools, if you’re looking for a volunteer project for you and your two children, both under 12-years-old, that has to be on Monday or Wednesday because the kids have soccer the rest of the week and involves baking (because the kids really like baking), chances are you’ll find it here if it exists.

Professor Garfield Cyberbullying (for iPad)

How it works: A longtime favorite feline is back to help your kids understand and recognize cyberbullying. Garfield’s friend Nermal wants to win the best dance star competition on “Animal Idol,” but he faces humiliation from two mean dogs, Willard and Lorenzo. Garfield channels his alter ego, Professor G., to help Nermal face these cyber attacks.

Why it’s great: Hand the reigns to your kids, and let them run this app. With Garfield, Nermal and their friend, Dr. Nova, they’ll learn strategies for dealing with cyberbullying and the importance of speaking up about it. The game is a great platform to talk with your kids, not only about protecting themselves from cyberbullying but also about treating others with kindness and respect.

What other apps for social good is your family using? We’d love to hear about them!

Hannah Lathan, a USC Honors College senior, is the marketing and communications intern at Central Carolina Community Foundation. She also serves as the articles editor for USC’s Garnet & Black Magazine. Hannah has studied writing, public relations and marketing in both Columbia and Rome and has worked in these fields in Columbia, New York City and Wyoming. Follow her on Twitter @hanestute.

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