The third major influence on how kids learn about money that we came up with at the conference on MoneyWI$E Women was the media. We threw into that bucket TV, Internet, Video games and Computer access in general.
Strategy 1: Get rid of or reduce access to television
Few in the room would go quite as far as my husband and I did in 1994 when our kids were 10 and 13. We got rid of the television. Really!
Well, we kept the set and hooked it up to a VCR and later a DVD player. We rent movies and watch them. But no TV. We did not like what was on it, often. I know, I know…we are missing all the education stuff on NOVA and the History channel. And I agree that is a loss.
That said, even when we were watching a show we thought was a good one, the commercials for the movie of the week (subject murder, rape, incest, natural disaster, criminal activities) would intrude.
Heck, just look at the most popular shows as I write this: CSI Criminal Investigation, Law and Order, and a whole host of reality shows that often substitute for a real life. YIKES! I know I just lost some of you who love to watch Survivor, or the Biggest Loser, or _______(substitute the name of the show you make sure you don’t miss).
I guess that is my point. It is perfectly okay with me if adults get hooked on shows…their choice. But when kids get hooked on shows, and they have negative and scary messages about life and about money, maybe it is not the healthiest way for them to spend their time.
Later in the day, a woman shared with me a factoid she had stumbled across. If you add up all the TV that most people watch, they are spending a month a year watching TV. When we decided that a full half of that is often commercials of some sort, that means we are giving up two weeks or more of our life every year to watch advertisements.
Strategy 2: No TV during dinner. No rushing dinner to have enough time for TV.
Family dinner time is a premier time to reinforce all the lessons kids are learning from you, be it about money or conflict or listening or community. Parents that are very connected to their kids because they spend an hour each evening rehashing the day or even talking about current events (as the kids are older) will have a great deal more influence than those whose lives get too busy to fit together-time in.
Strategy 3: Prohibit or carefully control time on video games, Gameboys, XBoxes and the like.
These activities are addictive. And by themselves may not be a bad thing, but are competing for time spent on homework, unstructured creative play (Legos, blocks when younger), reading, socializing with the family or others.
If you are thinking they’ll never go for it…because all their friends have it. All I can say is if you are the parents, you are the parents. Not all your parental decisions will be popular. As our kids got into the teen years, for those decisions they really chaffed at, we reminded them that in X years, they’d be able to make all those choices for themselves.
Strategy 4: For younger kids put the internet-connected computer in the family area.
You’ll have better control, but also a better sense of what is catching the kids interest, if they are in your environment when they are using the computer.
These are strategies the 30 women in the room came up with. More?