Using Social Media to Foster Good Money Habits in Kids
by Mark Bruinooge
There’s no arguing that having a good grasp of how to handle money is one of the most important life skills a parent can help foster in their child. However, parents struggle with imparting strong financial know-how to their kids. In a recent survey conducted by T. Rowe Price, 39 percent of adults disagreed when asked if their parents did a good job educating them about money and 59 percent felt their own kids were not equipped to manage their own money.
As social media becomes an indelible part of life with its endless recommendations and unparalleled access to goods and services, we’re experiencing new obstacles to money management. Kids are developing in a digitally saturated environment that enables immediate gratification, while responsible financial management requires just the opposite – patience for earning and saving before spending.
But can social media be turned around to help parents give kids a head start in developing the right childhood money habits so they become successful adults?
That’s what Tykoon.com is striving to do – use the powers of social media and virtual rewards for good. By using the same strategies developed by gaming companies to get people to spend money on virtual “goods,” Tykoon helps parents teach kids the basic principles of money management like earn, give, save and spend.
Tykoon is an online reward bank for kids and parenting tool (Web & iOS) that turns chores and parent-assigned tasks into an engaging virtual experience that helps kids learn about money by playing. Kids play by completing tasks to earn both virtual and real-life rewards.
Here are some of the ways that we leverage social media to help families prepare kids for a money smart future:
- Change “I want!” to “How do I earn?”: Parenting is tough, but it gets way tougher when kids don’t get what they want. Instead of saying no or yes during the next demand-driven fit, try diverting your child to think about what they can do to earn the things they want, just like they do on the social media games they play, and channel that knowledge into a strong work ethic. Tykoon lets kids digitally wishlist wanted items from a kid-safe store and compares the cost directly with how much money they have to spend.
- See like a bird but save like a squirrel: Encourage kids to take a bird’s eye view of the money they have coming in like allowance, reward for tasks accomplished or birthday gifts. Then discuss the portions of any income they will put towards saving, giving and spending. This helps your kids develop healthy patterns and plans around money that they can carry with them as they get older. Tykoon helps kids visually track online how much money they are saving and how it’s being distributed between savings, spending and earning.
- Be consistent about expectations and rewards: Make sure your kids know what they’re expected to do before they get their allowance. Be consistent in rewarding a job well done as well as withholding rewards if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities. Tykoon helps parents give and track cash and non-cash rewards including minutes for TV and Internet, as well as virtual badges.
- It takes a village, so get involved: Inform extended family and friends about your mission and get them involved! Work together to teach and encourage your kids to save and get rewarded for achieving milestones. Consider having family matching their savings for birthdays or treat kids to non-cash rewards like a special family outing for good financial planning. Tykoon makes it easy to create a safe social network for relatives and trusted family friends to share kids’ wish lists so they can help reward good earning behavior and form a united front.
- Make learning fun: Make it a fun family project to teach your kids how to make money by starting a lemonade stand. Turn saving money into a game by celebrating and rewarding kids for meeting savings goals. Lastly, don’t forget the Internet! 85 percent of kids say that an online game would be helpful for them to learn more about the basics of money. With today’s digitally savvy kids, it’s important to meet kids where they are already. Tykoon helps parents use the powers of virtual gaming for good and streamline the workflow of instilling healthy financial habits early.
Mark Bruinooge, CEO & Co-Founder of Tykoon, is a father to two sons and has been inspired by that experience to help kids and families improve their lives through innovative digital platforms. Mark has broad experience in launching start-ups and developing new concepts in the digital interactive, payments and consumer markets and is a former Bank of America executive.