The Daily App: Green$treets -- Teach Kids the Value of Money
You spend a lot of time teaching kids the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. But financial management is often left to the wayside. Instead, you struggle to show them the value of a buck, rigging together convoluted experiments with allowances that can backfire. That's where apps come in. They can sneak in lessons about spending through fun games and help them learn to make smart decisions about finances, offering a fun alternative for an emerging mobile generation.
What's the App?
"Green$treets," free on iOS, serves up real-life lessons on personal finance for kids aged five to eight. It doesn't take a dry, straightforward approach -- instead, it sprinkles its lessons through cute, colorful games. Kids rescue endangered animals, but not through fancy lasers or spaceships. Instead, they first build a budget to buy food, shelter and toys to make the animals happy before they can be released back to the wild.
Kids earn money by playing fun mini-games -- like pulling weeds and catapulting scattered toys and trash into boxes and recycling bins. To reach their goal of rescuing the animals, they have to budget and spend their money wisely on resources to support animals and donate to charity. By playing, they'll learn the value of earning and spending wisely, as well as budgeting and charitable giving. Beyond the nuts and bolts, special characters will teach them about the psychology of money and the various types of financial personalities: savers, spendthrifts, risk-takers and more. And Schmootz, a mischievous monster, teaches them how various messes can affect everyone -- teaching them ideals of citizenship and community.
You'll Want It If...
You're a parent, guardian, grandparent, uncle, aunt or just a family friend who wants to teach kids about money in an engaging, accessible way. Apps for kids come with special concerns and responsibilities, but Green$treets keeps these in mind through e-mails sent to parents, grandparents, educators and others you choose, so you can all share the goals they reach. You can also send personalized in-app voice messages to encourage them, and a snapshot feature gives you insights into what they're learning via a simple news feed. The game won't give you worries, it's adorable and innocuous -- it's developed by Neale Godfrey, a leader in children's financial education and a New York Times best-selling author, with the help of Tom Hester, creator of the children's film "Shrek." It doesn't talk down to kids and sneaks in financial lessons to keep it fun.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
Green$treets is a great example of an educational app, but it isn't perfect. It'll often start with no sound, and I had to go into the "options" menu to turn up the audio each time. That's not a deal breaker, but it's annoying -- hopefully a fix will be released. But it's a minor glitch for a generally well-designed, thoughtful app.
Sadly, there aren't similar apps out there to teach lessons on money. Apps like Mint and DebtFree are geared more towards adults with real bank and credit card accounts, though a game like Lemonade Stand teaches the thrill of earning, saving and teamwork. Still, apps can't do the work of a real parent, and no amount of gameplay can really trump the good example and careful guidance of a loving, concerned adult. But Green$treets make a good jumping-off point for discussion, and a nice start to the beginning of a hopefully prosperous life. ♦
Categories: Education | Finance | The Daily App