The piggy bank helped countless kids learn the importance of saving, but for the latest generation, that old slotted toy encourages them to think about money in a way that simply won’t exist when they grow up.
The 21st century’s acceleration towards a cashless society needs an alternative that’s smarter and more forward–looking. It needs to give our kids the grounding they need in a world of financial apps and cryptocurrencies – buzz words today that will be the essentials of our kids’ lives tomorrow.
Young minds learn money habits fast
Educating children about money needs to start early. University of Cambridge research has shown that our understanding of it takes shape at a young age. By seven we’ve already developed good – or bad – habits that will shape our financial behaviours for the rest of our lives.
Meanwhile the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has shown that even in mid and high performing countries, one in five students struggles with the simplest of financial responsibilities, from recognising the value of a budget to understanding a bank statement or pay slip.
This is where a new breed of financial tools for children can help. By bringing money education into a family context and delivering lessons through an engaging app, children will be empowered to learn about basic personal finance through play.
Using this kind of educational technology to teach kids about money is not only a benefit for children, but also for teachers. Currently, the UK personal finance syllabus only requires key stage one pupils to ‘recognise and know the value of different denominations of coins and notes’ and ‘find different combinations of coins that equal the same amounts of money’. This focus, though useful for the traditional understanding of money, is less useful to a child who is growing up in an increasingly cashless society.
Digital literacy and 21st century skills like coding have been a priority in schools for a while, but the way children are taught about money has not evolved in a similar way.
The issue remains, however, that teachers are resource-low and time-poor, and under pressure to teach to the core curriculum. Expecting them to devote classroom time to an entirely new way of thinking about money is unreasonable, especially as many of the topics may also be new to them. This is where new technology can fill the gap, bringing the financial education of the future directly to kids, without putting the onus on teachers to add another topic to their lesson planning.
Physical money will disappear over our lifetime, affecting all areas of our society, not just financial education. By the time today’s children reach adulthood the idea of paying for food with cash will be as alien as paying for a house with cash is for us. We need to get ahead of the curve and start changing the way we educate our kids now, so we can prepare them for their future in a cashless society.