I’m a big believer in the one-in, one-out rule to avoid the house being completely overtaken by kid stuff.
Whenever the kids add a toy, game, sports gear or clothing item, they need to go through their closet or toy box and get rid of something they no longer use or need.
Now along comes Kelly Harrison, who is taking the rule to a higher level.
The Princeton, N.J., mother of two is a co-founder of KidsTrade. The app, launched in October, allows kids from kindergarten through high school to trade or sell stuff they no longer want to friends. Think of KidsTrade as a Craigslist or eBay for children.
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Does your 8-year-old want to trade Pokemon cards for her friend’s Beanie Boo with the big eyes? How about a sports jersey for a video game, or a gently used doll for Legos?
KidsTrade offers a free platform — just take a picture of the item (up to four), write a quick description and post it on your account. Then see if a friend selects the item and sends an invitation to check out their stuff. It takes both sides to accept the trade.
The app is easy for kids to navigate, is available for a download through the iTunes App Store and, most important, is loaded with parental controls to keep young users safe.
Harrison, who has a background in entertainment, said the creative idea behind KidsTrade was spawned about a year ago when she and a group of parents were complaining to each other about how expensive it is to buy toys that seemed to have such short life spans. The parents worked with engineers and programmers and designed the app.
As the product underwent extensive testing before this fall’s rollout, child safety was the top priority.
Among the safety features, parents must register their children and maintain control over the accounts; parents must approve all trades, including those that seem uneven or involve items over $50; and parents can block users and prevent trades and communication.
By allowing transactions only between friends, the developers believe they have created a safe community of peers.
“When you make a trade or sell an item, it will always be with a familiar face on the other end,” Harrison said.
Harrison believes KidsTrade is the perfect tool for teaching kids responsibility, financial awareness, budgeting and a greener approach to consumerism. There is also a social awareness factor.
“For kids, this is a great way to understand that the doll that may be boring to you could be awesome to someone else,” Harrison said.
The benefits for parents go beyond saving a lot of money in the toy budget and keeping clutter in check.
“You want your kids to be able to gain some independence by making their own decisions,” Harrison said.
The holiday season approaching a new year is a perfect time for your kids to purge their closets and toy chests of unwanted stuff to make room for the new things. They can donate items to charity, hold a garage sale or try out the KidsTrade app with some of their friends — and gain some valuable life skills too.
Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879