By Dr. Jo Webber
When I grew up in London, England, from a young age, my mum would give me 50p to go to the corner shop and I could purchase comic books, candy and soda for myself. I only got my pocket money if I was (generally) well-behaved and did my chores. Sometimes aunts and uncles would also give me money for birthdays and other monumental events. My ability to spend the money was limited by my environment – just a couple of shops I could go to. There was no Internet.
Fast-forward 30 years, to my own children, and the generation growing up in this decade, who have never known a world where the Internet was not present. They are online in greater and greater numbers and getting online on PC’s as well as mobile devices without parental control. Piper Jaffrey, an investment bank and asset management firm, recently reported that over 1/3 of high school kids have an iPhone. Being online they can access a full array of items, many of which they would like to have.
So then the kids come to us, the parents, and say, “Can I borrow your credit card, so I can get this item?” or “play this game?” We all know what they mean by ‘borrow’. The problem is – what do you do? If you say “No” – they have no other way of getting the item. If you give them the credit card…you probably don’t want to do that!
The key in all of this is teaching the child to manage their own finances and empowering them to do so. In a recent survey conducted by PlayScience, a research, consulting, and innovation firm, 97% of parents surveyed responded that they considered it VERY important to teach their children how to manage their own finances. However, some parents may not know where to start. Dr. Susan Mattes-Bostian is the Vice President of Educational Programming at Economics Pennsylvania. According to Dr. Mattes-Bostian, “Often parents are afraid to bring up financial literacy because the parents themselves don’t know the path to take.” This in turn can lead to the next generation heading off to college with no real understanding of financial management.
What has worked for me is sitting down with my kids in a secure but real world environment to learn about the value of saving, giving, and the rewards of spending smartly. Watching my kids grow up made me realize that they would never know a world or a time without the Internet. This was the inspiration behind my company Virtual Piggy. •
For more information visit: