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‘Financial literacy apps’ is really just a fancy phrase for electronic games that teach users about money. Pop ‘financial literacy apps’ into the search box on the iTunes store and you’ll find loads of the things.
Take Mindblown Life as an example. Billed as a ‘funny, irreverent and social mobile game that develops money management skills’, the premise is pretty basic. You create your own avatar and navigate your way through life’s many financial challenges, dealing with debt, coping with unexpected cash flow crises and learning how to save.
But can these games actually teach kids real financial literacy? And if so, will our kids grow up and solve the world of all its financial ills?
Critics think not, and argue that financial literacy is something of a misnomer anyway.
And in the US, a report by the President’s Advisory Council criticised financial literacy tools, suggesting there’s little evidence that they’re teaching anything of any quantifiable, lasting value.
In the UK, advocates of financial literacy think it’s essential to prevent another financial crisis like the one we’re currently up to our necks in. Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com has been campaigning tirelessly - and successfully - to get financial literacy taught in schools.
But regardless of your stance on the benefits (or lack thereof) of financial literacy, there’s no denying that there are worse ways for your kids to while away their time than by playing games designed to teach them how to handle money.
And the real value of such apps is surely their capacity to get us talking to our kids about money in ways that are genuinely meaningful to kids.
As for whether they’re gimmicks or valuable teaching tools? The proof is in the pudding, and we won’t really know how beneficial financial literacy apps are for kids until they’re no longer kids. But until then, I’d much prefer my kids to play Mindblown Life than some sort of mindless beat-em-up nonsense.
I completely agree! Its amazing what apps are out there for kids to help them learn, that said, there are plenty of non-tech related ways too - simple things like showing them that you shouldnt spend money you dont have (as parents) sets a good life example.
Giving them pocket money (or at secondary school an allowance) that they have to buy things out of themselves (agree a list before-hand) is a good way to make them realise that if they spend their £10 on sweets then they wont have any credit to send text messages.
An example of this is with our eldest son he gets £40 per month allowance, but out of that he has to pay for his own lunches (and if he takes them from home its £1 per lunch to go to Mum) and if he loses anything at school (PE Kit, Trainers etc) then he has to buy replacements. Its taught him money management very quickly as well as taking care of his stuff a bit better!
Technology has the power to make our lives easier, more efficient and more connected and when we can combine that with the way we present data back to people it can really drive behaviour change for the positive, and no more so than for finance. There are many financial literacy apps that claim to help our children to spend wisely and there are some great solutions out there, but the downside of many of them is that they are virtual. They don’t give children the ability to learn about money by using it and focus on spending rather than how children can earn money, and save and spend responsibly.
What we really need are solutions that empower children to go through the cycle of earning, saving and spending in way that reinforces responsible behaviours. This helps them not only gain independence and learn great money habits but it also reinforces the value of things. Financial literacy is a vitally important skill all children should be equipped with, but our experience at PktMny is that the best way children can learn is by doing it for themselves. The right technology solution can help this drastically as it has the ability to give children the context they need to understand money and can engage them in the subject in a way that is relevant to them.
The thousands of parents who use PktMny testify that our unique solution has accomplished the above and is helping their children to take greater responsibility for their own money.. Our solution also allows parents to have total visibility on their children’s accounts and flexibility that allows accounts to be tailored to each individual child and grow with the child’s understanding and level of financial literacy. It’s a combination of all of this that is helping their children become savvy savers and spenders, and this is why we believe financial literacy apps can enable and empower great money habits in our children.