Cwist

Website review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Cwist Website Poster Image
Well-designed, goal-based motivation system rewards kids.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about a variety of academic topics (scientific exploration, engineering), socio-emotional topics (the satisfaction of helping others), physical development (sports practice), and more. They also can learn about the satisfaction of setting and achieving a goal, working with others, following a series of instructions, and completing a project or solving a problem. Cwist does a great job of combining online and offline exploration, but some parents may have a hard time granting material "wishes."

Positive Messages

The positive feelings kids can get from some of the great Cwist ideas (from physical activity to community service) may be overpowered by the overwhelming presence of "wishes." Here, kids will do great things but will learn to do them because they want a reward.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Cwists are directly tied to “wishes” for material items, and the site includes direct links to purchase. Some wishes are “homemade” or “experiences,” and users can create their own wishes, but it’s the material items that are displayed most prominently. In the end, the concept is that kids work so their parents will buy them things.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cwist is a website that offers a variety of learning projects, or missions, that kids complete to earn wishes. The projects combine online and offline activities, and many encourage or even require parent participation. When kids complete a Cwist, parents can grant them a "wish" as a reward for finishing the task. Though parents and kids create their own wishes, most of the pre-populated wishes are for toys and other material items that are available for purchase through Cwist. If that type of reward system isn't your bag, Cwist may be a challenge to use successfully. Parents can make unique accounts for multiple kids to assign Cwists and keep track of progress, and kids access their accounts through a unique username and password, so all personal information is kept private. Also, Cwists can be text-heavy, so kids should be strong readers or have someone read to them.

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What's it about?

Cwists are engaging projects that combine online and offline exploration; for example, kids can explore engineering by making bridges with paper, improve basketball-shooting skills, or organizing a community food drive by following the site's step-by-step instructions. When kids finish each CWIST, they'll get rewarded with a parent-approved "wish." Some wishes are for things that don’t cost money (plus users can set up their own custom wishes), but material wishes such as toys are the most prominently displayed.

Is it any good?

The Cwists themselves are awesome, with a great range of topics and a good mix of guidance and freedom to explore and discover. The site design is also excellent, and helps parents manage multiple kids and track their progress through completion.

Be aware that Cwist's system is reward-based, which come either in the form of products that you can purchase directly from the site, or custom gifts that may or may not be physical items. Special, meaningful rewards (such as spending extra quality time with mom or dad) for a job well done are always appreciated, and it's great that you can set up those kinds of personal rewards as your family's individual Cwist wishes. 

If you're not into Cwist's setup (tying each completed goal to the promise of buying a gift or setting up your own reward), you can simply use their challenges as a jumping-off point. Kids can learn to appreciate the satisfaction of finishing a project, discovering something new, solving a problem, or getting a warm feeling when they help someone else (for example, in the community service Cwists) without a reward. Our advice: Do the Cwists, but make your own wishes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Do Cwists together: Explore the different steps and investigate, create, and do alongside your kid -- then enjoy a reward together.     

  • Discuss the idea of getting wishes for completing Cwists. What does your kid think about it? What differences are there between the wishes you have to buy and the ones that are homemade? 

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