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Created on 05.02.2020

Digital payment – child’s play?

Unlike cash payments, payments made by card, smartphone or e-banking are not visible. For children, it can be a challenge to understand the abstract principle of electronic money and to develop a responsible approach to handling it. Parents can support them in this by creating opportunities to practise handling digital money at different ages.

Today, payment is often invisible: we pay at the checkout with our smartphone, we pay bills via e-banking, and the subscription fees for online services are automatically charged to our credit card.

Understanding electronic money without ever seeing it can be a challenge for children: where does the money come from that you get from the machine? How come you can buy all sorts of things with a plastic card? How does the money on the plastic card disappear the more we pay with it?

And it is precisely because digital money is so easily spent with just a click that children and young people need special support in learning how to handle it responsibly.

Tips for parents

These tips will help parents to introduce children and teens to digital payment step by step and with age-appropriate techniques:

Preschool children

Younger children are not yet able to think in abstract terms. They learn the principle of money best via experiences with “real” visible money. They understand, for example, that money is gone when you exchange it for something in the shop, or that you get different things for smaller amounts of money than you do for larger. When you withdraw money yourself with a card or pay with your smartphone, you can explain to your kids how the payment process works. This way, your children will gradually develop an understanding that even “invisible money” is a means of payment and is not unlimited.

Children between 8 and 12 years old

After they start school, most children take responsibility for their own money for the first time with pocket money. In order to give your children their first experience of practising with digital payment, you can supervise them when they want to buy something on the Internet with their pocket money (e.g. music or a game). Complete the buying process with your son or daughter by using your credit card, and then ask them to return the amount to you in cash. To prevent unwanted purchases, make sure you don’t save credit card numbers in online shops, don’t give your kids the login information for your accounts, and set up password protection for purchases from the App Store or Google Play.

Youngsters over 12 years old

Older children can have their pocket money paid directly into a youth account. In this way, adolescents can practise handling electronic payment methods independently and with their own money. Show your youngsters how they can keep track of their expenses (e.g. by checking their account balance in e-finance and setting up notifications in the mobile banking app). In order to keep costs under control, it can also be helpful to set up a daily withdrawal limit for debit or prepaid cards and to pay online with digital vouchers.

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