By Carla Hindman
PRIDE Financial Columnist
How often do you discuss money with your children? If your answer is “not often,” you’re not alone. Many kids end up learning about money management through the school of hard knocks- but this doesn’t have to happen.
If you can help your children start to build strong spending and saving habits at an early age in a fun and entertaining way, it can have a concrete impact on their futures.
For decades, millions of kids have faithfully followed the adventures of their favourite comic book superheroes – sometimes well into adulthood. Although often considered pure escapism, comic books can also serve an educational role – whether it’s teaching the principles of science, demonstrating right versus wrong or even helping kids learn how to read.
As a way to introduce children to basic money concepts in a kid-friendly format, Marvel Comics and Visa Inc., recently collaborated on a new comic book called Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket’s Powerful Plan. In the comic’s fast-paced plot, the popular characters from Guardians of the Galaxy learn the importance of saving and managing personal finances while defeating the evil Collector and Robo-Pests.
The new Marvel comic book was launched on September 21st, 2016 at the Toronto Public Library. At the event, special guest DeMarree Carroll spoke to Sanderson Youth Hub kids about the importance of financial education, saying, “In order to get what you want to get in life, do what you want to do in life, and become who you want to be in life, finance is the biggest thing, so learning at an early age is very, very important.”
Comic books aren’t the only kid-friendly way to teach financial literacy. Studies have shown that the key components of good video games – including immediate feedback, rewards, motivation and goal-setting – may do a better job of preparing today’s kids for the modern, high-technology, global world in which they live than the more traditional types of learning often found in the classroom.
A good example is Financial Soccer, a free, 2014 FIFA World Cup themed video game, which challenges players to answer fast-paced, multiple-choice money management questions correctly to advance down the field for a chance to score a goal.
As money becomes increasingly digital, with online banking and ecommerce growing in popularity today’s young people may soon be doing the majority of their transactions online.
So helping them learn the discipline to manage, save and spend an allowance, track purchases and comparison shop is more important than ever. Money Metropolis is a game that features a multi-dimensional world where players make real-life decisions that will affect whether their virtual bank account shrinks or grows. Games like these that focus on real-life scenarios can help teach effective money management techniques at an early age.
Bottom line: Kids learn more when their imagination is engaged, so look for well-designed educational comic books and video games to supplement more traditional learning tools.
Carla Hindman is Director of Financial Education at Visa Canada and directs the Practical Money Skills program for Visa Canada.