Rublox, other video games can improve children’s financial skills


Every few days my 8 year old son Neal asks if he can “win something” on Roblox, a popular online video game platform.

This is his way of suggesting that I buy him Robux, the platform currency, in exchange for a chore or an additional academic assignment.

While I usually decline these requests, his persistence has led me to wonder if games teach him any personal finance lessons, such as how to budget for a scarce resource – Robux – and if his practice in this virtual world might help. ‘help navigate the truth. Will he be less likely to waste real money if he has already practiced stretching his Robux budget?

Some experts say a categorical “yes”.

Mark Mazzu, a former banker and stockbroker who teaches on the online educational platform Outschool, uses Minecraft, another popular video game, to help kids learn about the economy.

“You see them trade naturally; they understand that, ”he says. “Negotiating, exchanging, buying, selling is fantastic. “

But financial literacy experts also claim that whether kids actually learn money lessons from video games depends a lot on how parents talk to them about their online experience.

In his online courses, Mazzu raises the question of how to protect his students’ money.

“I ask them, ‘What does a bank do?’ and transition to a Minecraft discussion, ”he says. “” How do you keep your things safe inside Minecraft? “”

In the game, players use safes, for example, which protect valuables, much like a bank account does.

This can lead to a discussion about saving money. Mazzu suggests wording it in a meaningful way: “If you’re going to get 64 pieces of coal or cobblestones, you don’t want to use everything you find.” You want to put it away. Why not put 10% aside in a safe and use the rest? Mazzu said. “It’s a great way to teach kids how to save. “

Laura Vanderkam, author of “Off the Clock” and mother of five children under the age of 15, says her children have taken silver lessons from the Roblox Theme Park Tycoon game, in which players build and manage an amusement park. attractions.

“There are a lot of corporate award decisions that aren’t the kind of thing kids would get a chance to do in real life unless you have a serious lemonade stand,” says Vanderkam.

She says parents can take those lessons home by asking kids about games and drawing parallels to the real world.

“People are obsessed with the negative aspects of screen time, but there are a lot of interesting lessons to be learned,” says Vanderkam.

Susan Beacham, CEO and founder of Money Savvy Generation, a financial education company, says video games often focus on superficial purchases, like virtual decorations or dressing up an avatar. But parents can also point out shortcomings in games, such as currency that cannot be spent, not invested, given or kept in an interest-bearing account, for example.

“If you want them to learn a lesson, you have to talk to them about it,” she said.

Beacham also suggests that children earn money or use their allowance to buy virtual currency to play.

“The kids will take your money all day,” she says. “You have to create scarcity and confront them with a choice. When they spend their own money, it’s different.

Then she suggests following up afterwards and asking them if they think the cost was worth it: “Now you are teaching your child about money and value. “

Jeff Haynes, editor-in-chief of web and video games for Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that promotes safe technology and media for children and families, says the money lessons can begin even before the game is not played. Children should consider how much the games cost and why they prefer one game to another.

Haynes suggests that parents understand the trade-offs possible by asking, for example, “Why is this something you want for this game rather than something else?” How are you going to save money to get it? “

Now when Neal asks me for Robux, I think about how to make sure he really earns that currency. I want him to internalize the idea that Robux, like real money, is a scarce resource and not something to be taken for granted. In addition to earning him the Robux through chores or extra homework, I ask him to explain what he gets out of the purchase and why it is worth it.

He clearly thinks this strategy works: “It teaches me not to use too much Robux, and in Tycoon games I’ve learned to save for really expensive things. “

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