In honor of the Halloween season and all of its sticky glory, Target has come out with a new app to enhance the trick-or-treating experience. That’s right: the megastore with the bathing suits out at every season and the $1 section that could make a grown man squeal is now reaching out into the holiday cyber universe. The app, Treatster, is essentially a virtual map where trick-or-treating children can vote on the houses around them and see how well-liked by others the nearby houses were so that they can hit up the places with the best treats. As houses receive more “upvotes” by the kiddies, the houses’ pumpkin icons grow larger as a sign of public approval. This is all an effort to network the children and help them bury their faces in their phones even more than they already are.
Now, I witnessed a lot of horrors Halloween night: panties strung across Commonwealth Avenue, Slender Man sobbing on the concrete steps of Allston and so, so many glow-in-the-dark boob tattoos. However, thanks to my newfound distance from suburbia, I did not witness a child using this app. And, even if I still resided in the nicely settled outskirts of Atlanta, I imagine I still would have seen approximately zero people using it. Treatster feels like a complete flop to me for a myriad of reasons.
My first qualm is the way that Treatster completely removes the fun guessing game out of trick-or-treating. Maybe I am just becoming decrepit and out of touch with the youth, but I think that this level of technological incorporation detracts from the Halloween experience. Children are already very goal-oriented on Halloween. I don’t think there is any need to create any more competition, to use smartphones any more than usual or to take any more focus away from simply enjoying the moment.
Also, I can 100 percent see this app creating neighborly tensions between the suburban parent-teacher association moms who care way too much about their image. If one house gets all the up votes, I can see a woman named Pam getting really jealous and bitter and upset at the children for not enjoying her homemade nut bars. Personally, I think Treatster is a marketing ploy to create competition between parents in an effort to get them to buy more and better candy. The app may stop parents from phoning in their candy selection with just some basic Nerds and SweeTarts. Maybe this year, the parents will splurge for the Take 5’s and the king-sized Mr. Goodbars. And maybe, just maybe, they will splurge on all that yumminess at Target.
I have to wonder how many people actually used Treatster. Unfortunately, it is nowhere to be found on the App store anymore. It’s an incredibly strange concept to me, but maybe all of the little 7-year-olds with iPhones found Treatster to be helpful in their search for the largest, yummiest piles of candy. My only hope is that, come Christmas time, Target makes an app for us all to see the malls with the best Santa Clauses.