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Companies like Amazon have made it easier than ever to purchase goods online and never have to handle cash. But how has the digital move away from cash affected children and their ability to learn about the values of money? Long gone are the days when kids went to brick and mortar stores to buy toys with their hard-earned allowance. Nowadays kids have to ask their parents to use credit cards to order goods for them online.
So this begs the question, do kids really understand the value of a dollar anymore? Not only are they not handling cash, they're also forced to involve their parents much more in every purchase. Is the digital marketplace actually erasing an essential exercise for young children? According to Tovah Klein, Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, it very well could be. Klein, author of How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2 to 5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success, says, "money is already an abstract concept. Which means it is tough for children to understand. Coins and bills help develop a sense of exchange. "
If exchanging coins and bills serves as an important step in a child's development, then how could the lack of it affect children as they grow up? According to Klein, "paying with cash can be very empowering to children. It gives them a choice. I got a dollar and I can choose what to do with it." And, "the idea of exchange and interaction teaches appropriate social skills."
The process can also help strengthen important math skills. Luckily games like Monopoly still remain popular and provide at least one area where children can practice spending money. "Kids love to play games with money, and that is exposure to capitalism," said Klein.