Oh, those were the days. Every kid in the class gave everything they had to win the red or blue silk ribbon. It was Play Day. Not a child missed school that day or any other day of the year when competitions were scheduled. Just seeing a shiny star posted on the winners’ lists from Four Square or a Spelling Bee was enough to make any child happy. The feeling of accomplishment and good sportsmanship earned us merits and taught us that winning felt good. Not anymore. One company ends those innocent values taught, replacing ribbons and stars with cash and credit.
Hasbro has teamed up with Visa for its The Game of Life: Twists and Turns edition. The previous edition dealt with cash winnings for a game, but the new edition deals with credit cards. The game consists of credit cards that total to points for winning a game. The teen market for credit cards is saturated, as the companies push credit on those under the age of 18. However, the market is heading towards preteens now, going as young as nine years old.
Critics worry that at age nine, it is too early in life to introduce credit and other financial matters to a child that does not understand it yet. It could reinforce that credit is the way to win in life, when in fact it is burdening Americans today more than ever.
The company appears to stand behind the premise, that if you teach kids early about money and credit, it will eliminate problems in the future. The Game of Life teaches kids that it isn’t always about receiving a lot of cash in life, but the “points” or values are just as important. Earning good credit and having resources throughout life other than cash are an alternative the company is trying to teach.
The financial matters played out in this game resemble the same financial challenges adults over the course of a lifetime. In the Game of Life, the players move through different financial milestones such as college, marriage, children, taxes, the stock market up and downs, career changes during a midlife crisis, and retirement. Most adults have a hard time grasping these issues in life, let alone a child as young as nine.
Some experts believe this will introduce a solid background and preparation for life’s financial matters. Others believe it will confuse a child, and teach a child that credit is the same as cash.
I see the game as a way to leer a child into the gambling arena later on in life. If they see cash and credit as a game, their financial choices could confuse a game with reality, leading to a life of addiction and debt, among other life woes.
There used to be a time when games were uncomplicated and our credit for winning was a red or blue silk ribbon. A gold star gave us credit for the value we contributed to a game. Today, it is the greed of cash and credit injuring the innocent teaching of values. These values of good feelings and good sportsmanship are the real values of life.