There are a lot of discussions around the negative effects of video games on children, but did you know that video games and social media can be used to encourage positive habits? By creating a system to earn a virtual allowance for kids, parents can help their children develop healthy behaviors while also teaching them financial responsibility. Parents can use virtual allowances to turn screen time into something productive that helps the whole family.
So, we asked 3 experts to share their best advice on setting up a virtual allowance for kids.
1. Use a virtual allowance for kids to show them the benefits of having responsibilities and getting work doneDary Merckens, Gunner Technology
Parents should 100% be giving their kids a virtual allowance and the best method for doing so is to integrate that virtual allowance with their favorite gaming device.
Allowances are incredibly important for young children. Learning the principles of money and responsibility has a lifetime of benefits. And as financial literacy continues to wane, these lessons become even more paramount. Kids need to learn that diligence and hard work produces value, money can run out, and sometimes you have to save (especially for big purchases).
Consider giving your children a set of chores or other responsibilities that they have to accomplish on a daily and weekly basis. At the end of each week, on Sunday night, based on what they got done, your children would be rewarded for their performance. The reward would be in the form of points or virtual currency that they could spend through their favorite gaming system.
Some ideas of responsibilities that can earn your children gaming points:
- Being in bed by 9 at night is worth 100 Nintendo points.
- Every time they take the trash out is worth 200 Nintendo points.
- Mowing the lawn is worth 500 Nintendo points.
- Getting an A in a class is worth 2,000 Nintendo points. (Some parents are against rewarding kids for academic performance, but some literature says that rewarding kids for grades both makes them work harder and perform better.)
This way, your kids earn points towards something they love, while also learning about the benefits of having responsibilities and getting their work done. Additionally, you can try to encourage your children to buy games that you could play together. So, instead of just giving them money to spend on anything, you’re actively encouraging the purchase of something that the whole family can enjoy together.
2. A virtual allowance can be a great strategy for motivating your childrenCarrie Krawiec, Birmingham Maple Clinic, @BirminghamMaple
Earning a virtual allowance can be a great strategy for motivating your children. Parents can exchange points on a behavior chart for iTunes or other downloads.
Consider what behaviors can earn rewards. Break routine behaviors into 5 steps and create a chart. You may have small daily rewards, like points or tickets and then larger weekly or monthly rewards, like iTunes downloads, games, or other larger prizes.
For example, if you are working on improving homework instead of offering your child a prize for getting straight A’s, offer small daily rewards for the small steps it takes to improve grades. For example 1) bringing work home, 2) getting the necessary supplies 3) focusing at their desk for 30 minutes 4) giving you or another parent their homework to review and 5) putting it in bag or folder to take to school. You’ll want to give your kid praise for completing their tasks and calculate their daily points to earn rewards.
Check in with your children daily and be consistent. Make sure the reward is something not already given freely to your child so as to set up a reinforcement system rather than the threat of punishment.
Consider setting up rules about when you will check for completion, who will administer the reward, what the expectations are for online behavior, and how noncompliance will result in consequences. Avoid bribing or giving your child the reward before the task is earned. If you find your child is not succeeding with this strategy then revise the plan. Likewise, if they are earning too much too easily then consider adding a more challenging objective.
3. Help your children set up budgets and savings accounts
Dustyn Ferguson, Dime Will Tell, @DustynDream
As we move further away from cash, a virtual allowance is becoming more of the norm – and that comes at a cost: a further disconnection of what money is all about. Kids are no longer seeing dollar bills come and go, they’re just seeing digits on a screen, and this can disconnect kids from the true value of money, how to earn (and deserve it), and plan financially for the future. It’s easier than ever to buy impulsively online, so it’s important to have a money talk with kids to ensure they get what it is all about.
Besides just talking about money, it can be useful to help kids set up budgets and savings accounts. Helping your children navigate their mistakes is a step in the right direction when it comes to teaching kids about finance in a digital world. Financial mistakes are more crucial than ever for children to make but they will hold those lessons for life which can help set them up for financial success later in life.
While screen time can have a negative impact on your child’s life, setting up a strategy for earning a virtual allowance can help parents turn screen time into something positive. When parents use a virtual allowance to show their children the benefits of having responsibilities and getting work done, they motivate their children to be productive. Parents can still give their children physical money but as society moves further away from cash it’s important for them to learn the value of money both online and off. When parents follow the advice above they help their children learn financial responsibility in a positive way.
Have your own advice on setting up a virtual allowance for kids? Let us know in the comments below!