I remember when I got my first piece of mail that said ‘here is ten reasons why your teenager needs a credit card’. I laughed. My college now sets up debit accounts at the bookstore, I suppose so that one’s precious son or daughter doesn’t spend all that ‘book’ money on beer. But this sneaky little idea takes the cake.
I think that is a horrible idea. I dont think it is good to learn early on that plastic is analogous to cash. If you give your kids cash, they see that they are spending actual money that someone worked hard for. If you put money directly into a debit account, it looks like money that magically appeared out of no where and carries no responsibility.
Plus, I hate to see plastic be hip. I know that we need credit cards to survive in this world, but I think we need to delay the onset of credit card ownership as long as possible. Young people get into big trouble with credit cards, trouble that can haunt them for decades. Why do we want to give them this first introduction to them? Even though these aren’t credit cards, they still teach kids that it’s a hip and valid to use a card to manage all your finances. When they graduate to a real credit card, they will continue that habit, exept this time it’s for reals.
And no, these are not like an ATM card. With an ATM card, you see the twenty. Your spend the twenty. You watch that twenty dwindle and slip through your hands. You know that twenty is gone forever. With an card like the one proposed, you never see the twenty. You never feel the pain of losing the twenty. You just swipe the twenty and get magic free goods.
These cards are like giving crack to a three year old. It is a great way to hook kids early and well. Remeber, these companies arn’t out there to make your job as a parent easier, they are out there to make sure your kids soon give them a lot of cash. These cards are there to ensure that your kids become life long slaves.