Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kids and Credit Cards, Are we sending the wrong message to our youth?

Kids and Credit Cards, Are we sending the wrong message to our youth?

By Keith Bunn Jr.
April 1, 2012

If there has been one good thing about this recession, and that is it has opened a lot of people’s eyes to how much risk there were taking when it came to their household debt load. Unfortunately, it took those people getting financially smacked in the head to see it, for others it took seeing it second hand or hearing about a family member or friend’s issues before they took take a look at their lives.
In either case, for those of you who see the risk now and are doing something about it, I applaud you! All the others out there who don’t see the risk yet, I hope you see it before it’s too late. If you think it’s the “American way” to be in debt, and there is just no other way to live without having some kind of debt, that’s fine, we can still be friends, but what I worry the about most is, what our society is teaching our children about debt and the use of credit cards.
Some of you may not know what I’m talking about so let me explain. Credit card companies spend millions upon millions of dollars each year on marketing to our children. They market to them as young as they can. This is called “Kiddie Branding”. Now a lot of you probably don’t think this is true or don’t realize it so, let me give you some examples of Kiddie Branding. Have you seen the newer versions of the old board games Monopoly® and Life®? Both of these games now come with Visa® cards instead of cash. Even though adults play these games too, the way these games are marketed are for the kids. We don’t own any of those games but I looked them up. The description for Monopoly® is, “Cards, not cash. Now play with millions on your card.” And for Life® (the Game of Life: Twist and Turns® to be more precise) it says, “Slide your Visa® game card into the Lifepod to access your information” also, “Automated Lifepod helps you manage money, houses, cars, and family matters.” What is this saying to our children? If I want millions, I need to use plastic instead of cash. If I want to manage my money, home, cars, and family matters, I need to use plastic instead of cash, and not only do I need to use plastic, I need to use plastic that has a Visa® logo on it.
What this does as this information keeps being burned into our children’s brains over the years and they get older and go off to college and they start getting all these credit card offers in the mail, get into a financial bind, or maybe the credit card companies set up stands on the college campuses telling the students if they sign up they can get a T-shirt or free pizza. What card do you think they’ll sign up for? In our example, if Visa® is the primary logo they have used in the many toys and games on the market today, they will more than likely sign up for a Visa® credit card.
Now Visa® isn’t the only credit card company doing this and Monopoly® and Life® aren’t the only kid games and toys on the market that have some version of credit card usage. But as parents, we need to really watch what is being fed into our children’s minds and as they get older and can understand things better, sit them down and explain to them what all this money stuff is about. Give them a fighting chance to monopolize and be successful in their lives!
As with all my blog posts, and social media posts, I welcome any comments and feedback on the topics I write about. It is the only way you and I will learn more about ourselves and each other, so ask away!

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