Advertisement
credit & debt

Credit Cards Not a Game

To children, credit and debit cards aren't as real as money they can see and feel. To learn basic money skills, they need to get their hands on cold hard cash.

Later this year Hasbro will introduce a new version of its classic Game of Life that replaces play money with a Visa-branded card (see A Skewed Take on Life).

That's too bad. Not only does the new "Twists & Turns" edition ($35) advertise a company logo to kids as young as 9, but it also cancels out the hands-on value of the original game: Kids could feel the pleasure of collecting a salary, or the pain of paying for college, by piling up or depleting stacks of money.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Children don't draw a distinction among credit, debit and prepaid cards. To them, plastic is plastic and none of it is as real as cash. That's why I believe so strongly that kids need to deal in hard currency. And there's plenty of research to back me up.

For example, James Roberts, associate professor of marketing at Baylor University, has done extensive research on credit-card use among adolescents. His conclusion: "When you remove actual money from the exchange, it's easier to spend and more difficult to keep track of your spending."

When researchers stood outside a college bookstore and asked departing students how much they had spent, students who had paid by cash or check could pinpoint their bill to the penny. But students who had paid by credit card offered estimates that were all over the map.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Brain-imaging studies done by George Lowenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, show that the parts of the brain that register pleasure and pain are also involved when people make purchases. Buying something stimulates a pleasurable response, and paying for it elicits pain.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Paying with plastic, says Lowenstein, has the potential to anesthetize the pain. "Swiping a card isn't like giving something up," he says.

Credit is fine as long as cardholders are mature enough to handle it. But because the brain continues to develop until young people are in their early twenties, 'tweens and teens are "susceptible to the lesson that you can finance a purchase through debt and the future will take care of itself," says Lowenstein.

Look, I'm no Scrooge. I can see how kids could find Twists & Turns to be cool and fun to play. To appeal to parents the game will include a booklet based on Visa's financial-literacy curriculum.

Hasbro says it has also enhanced the game by changing the rules: The winner will no longer be the player who accumulates the most money but the one who earns the most "life points" -- a combination of wealth and experience. And, says a Hasbro spokesperson, "If you don't manage your finances well, you can't win."

But as a way of teaching financial literacy, the classic Game of Life is hard to beat. Fortunately, it's still available -- for about half the price of Twists & Turns. Show me the money any day.

Advertisement

Most Popular

Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally
careers

Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally

A new chiropractor’s fledgling business plan to attract patients may sound reasonable at first look, but it’s actually against the law, and the same p…
June 30, 2020
What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?
tax brackets

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?

The IRS unveiled the 2020 tax brackets, and it's never too early to start planning to minimize your future tax bill.
June 20, 2020
13 Luxury Goods That Are Cheaper at Costco
spending

13 Luxury Goods That Are Cheaper at Costco

You could be missing out on huge savings: Costco sells a limited selection of luxury goods at discounted prices, both in-store and online.
June 27, 2020

Recommended

52 Super Deals and Discounts for 2020
spending

52 Super Deals and Discounts for 2020

With a special nod to those of you spending more time at home, we found dozens of deals and discounts, plus ways to save (or make) money.
June 6, 2020
Banks Canceling Credit Cards, Cutting Limits
credit & debt

Banks Canceling Credit Cards, Cutting Limits

If you haven’t used a card in awhile, make a small purchase with it to keep it open. It’s good for your credit score.
June 4, 2020
Milliennials Face Their Second Recession
credit & debt

Milliennials Face Their Second Recession

Forty percent of millennials say the pandemic will likely cause them to delay payments on their debts. Does that include you? Time to take action.
June 4, 2020
When Savings Bonds Make Sense
credit & debt

When Savings Bonds Make Sense

Series I savings bonds are safe options, but don’t go all in.
June 3, 2020