May 27, 2024

Bucks Blog: Do We Really Need a Tooth Fairy App?

The tooth fairy in 2009 in the play, Happiness.The New York TimesThe tooth fairy in the play “Happiness” in 2009.

Here’s one for the list of tools you can probably live without: An app for iPhones and iPads that helps compute what the tooth fairy should leave for your child.

Now, just in case there any children who are avid Bucks readers, I’m not saying that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist — just that he or she may confer with parents to determine the amount of money that is left under your pillow. The amount may vary, based on where you live, and by family (or fairy) tradition.

I am saying, however, that parents who need an app to tell them what value to place on their child’s bicuspids may need to get a life.

The app strikes me as appealing to well-meaning but possibly obsessive parents who complicate childhood by overthinking details that should just be fun.

And don’t get me started about parents who keep introducing new varieties of fairies. For instance, the “Halloween Fairy,” who takes away excess candy after the holiday — apparently to avoid cavities and/or obesity. I explained to my children that that particular fairy doesn’t visit our home, because we know when we should stop eating sweets.

News coverage of the tooth fairy app, which was created by Visa, included quotes from psychologists warning of the possible stigma that may await children who learn that their tooth fairy leaves less than their classmates’. According to an article in USA Today, Nobody wants to be the parent whose child is “the talk at recess,” because of a frugal Tooth Fairy, says Amy Moncarz, a second-grade teacher at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Rockville, Md.

Actually, I’d be more upset if my child was the “talk of recess” for eating dirt or bullying a classmate, but maybe that’s just me.

In a news release, Visa announced that a survey it conducted found that the average gift per tooth was now $3, up from $2.60 last year, and that some lucky children get $5 or more per tooth. (Are they gold teeth, one wonders?) The survey results are based on 2,000 phone interviews in July and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

I didn’t download the app but tried the tool online. It tells you what children of parents similar to you, in terms of education and income, are getting. My children seem to be faring well; their tooth fairy leaves $2 per tooth, while the average where we live is $1, according to the tool. But did I really need to know that?

Maybe tooth fairies should adopt an idea proposed by the author Bruce Feiler, and give a book instead.

Let us know what you think: Are we overdoing it with a tooth fairy app?

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