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June 24, 2024

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Children can’t make ‘cents’ of real money. Is it worrisome?

MELANIE Zhang didn’t realize that she had never taught her 8-year-old daughter about renminbi until recently, when the Grade-2 student was struggling with homework that required her to solve a maths problem with banknotes and coins.

“I doubt if she had even seen any real money before the homework,” said the legal specialist for a multinational trade firm in Shanghai. “As far as I can remember, we had been used to online payment for a while when she started to know things.”

The girl knows about “yuan” (1 yuan is the equivalent of about 14 US cents), but has no idea of “jiao” (1/10 of a yuan) or “fen” (1/100 of a yuan), nor does she know about the conversion relations between the three, as she is familiar only with numbers appearing on payment pages when making purchases with Alipay or WeChat.

“Money is numbers on screens, which I assume is all her idea about finance,” Zhang said.

Now, is this problem harmless or actually worrisome to some extent?

It should be noted that Zhang’s daughter is not the only child these days that don’t have a solid idea of money.

It is reported that in Wuhan of Hubei Province, an elementary school teacher was surprised to find that her Grade-1 pupils had no ideas what renminbi are and believed that “banknotes can be split in half when used.”

There is actually no problem that children don’t how banknotes are used or how a 5-jiao coin looks like because online payment will be mainstream in a foreseeable future, but it could be dangerous that children miss the opportunity to form a proper financial concept when they should.

Zhang’s daughter is a fine example.

“When I asked her where money comes from, she told me it’s just in the phone,” she said. “You scan a code, type in some numbers, and you’ll get what you want.”

With such a concept, it is no wonder that irrational consumptions from minors are increasing. One of the latest cases opened a court session in late May in Beijing, in which a 10-year-old boy gave 140,000 yuan to a livestreamer as a reward. His mother wanted to retrieve the money but the appeal was not supported by the court.

The court noted that this was not the first time the mother had tried to retrieve a large sum of money spent online by her son, and as the guardian of the boy, she should shoulder the responsibility of caring and educating her son. And as she had not set any payment limits to any of her accounts, it was partly her fault.

It’s not rocket science to grasp the idea of how this child was poorly educated about money and he is definitely not the only victim. When they have no idea how money is earned, or how money is not equivalent to numbers — to most social classes — it’s no surprise that they don’t respect or cherish money.

And we can say that getting to know real money, banknotes and coins that are tangible, is a good start.

“The ability of using money is essential to children,” Chu Chaohui, a researcher with National Institute Of Education Sciences, told media. “Where does money come and go, how to distribute money, and how to use them to solve problems they will face in their future life, is what parents should teach their children when they’re young.”


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