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Tech Teens and Personal Finance

Dec 07, 2023 08:24AM ● By Nikki Ducas

Good Grief! How is it that my teen doesn’t have a clue about what’s happening in the world? It’s because teens are insular and if it doesn’t have to do with what they are interested in or if it’s not on YouTube, then they don’t think it’s important.

As a Gen X parent, I am having a hard time keeping up with all the technology my teen seemingly knows so much more about than his father or I do.

Rightly so, it has been 30 years since we were seniors in high school and the world has changed so much, especially with respect to technology and how news and information is disseminated. How many of you still read a newspaper? Even before it’s off the press, it’s old news.

Teens today are wired differently. There’s no wait-and-see approach to learning. Teens expect things to happen immediately. Thanks to smartphones being given to children at even younger and younger ages—about 25% receive phones by age 10½  and 75% by age 12 ½, with nearly all children having a cell phone by 15.

Early adaptation to technology is proving to have detrimental effects on how children learn. The idea of having to memorize algebraic equations, what the 50 states are in alphabetical order or who the presidents are is a foreign concept. It’s sad when your teen questions when he will ever use this math in real life. My response is “It will help you with critical thinking and problem solving in life.”

Unfortunately, the same can be said about personal finance. Teens today are growing up in a cashless society and rarely see cash exchanged at the point of sale. It’s crucial now more than ever to educate our teens on how to reconcile their cash flow monthly. Suggesting that they take a consumer math class in high school may be a beneficial reminder about decimals and how decimal placement plays an important role in money.

With more and more classes becoming computer-based, it’s that much more important to engage teens using real-life situations that they can relate to. Make savings a game and incorporate economics and personal finance into the experience.

By providing teens with personal finance knowledge while in high school, it may give them a fighting chance to be able to properly manage their money and become financially successful adults.

For example, when my teen earns money, he is now splitting his income 40/20/20/20 (spending, savings, giving and inventing). As a result, he is now realizing just how long it takes to make money to buy even one video game. He has also become more interested in investing and seeing his “dollar cost average” add up over time. Spending his own hard-earned money on real-life expenses has always made him think more about wanting the purchase and ultimately taking care of and keeping it.

Come on fellow Gen X and Millennial parents, let’s teach our teens the overarching benefit of saving their hard-earned money instead of spending it before they make it.

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