I’m sure by now you’ve heard the story about the six year using her mom’s finger print to buy $250 worth of Pokémon paraphernalia off Amazon, right? A little Christmas gift to herself shall we say. It’s been making the rounds on Facebook via blog posts from several of the go to guys, and she’s being touted as genius, sweet, even a “hero“. I however have one very HUGE question about all this….
Why, exactly, are we celebrating this child?
Can We Please Stop Celebrating When Kids Do Bad Things?
What she did was theft. She spent her parents money without their consent. This most probably was innocent enought, I mean she’s six. Did she know she was spending real money? Probably not. But that’s exactly what she did. Instead of sitting her down and explaining that what she did was wrong, and why it was wrong, they laughed it off, got national positive media attention, and gave her (GAVE HER) what they could not return for Christmas.
I’m not saying that she’s a bad child, what I am saying is that in a world where money can be spent with the touch of a finger (literally) our children need to be taught that it still has value, that it still belongs to someone, and that if it’s not theirs they can’t have it. Period. And while I’m at it, that it’s still freaking MONEY.
I have had one kid spend money on apps when I thought that in-app purchases were restricted on their phone. I have had another get passwords and use them without permission. I either heard, “I didn’t think it was real money I was spending” or “I didn’t think I had spent that much” (you can read read that one as “I thought I had spent little enough you wouldn’t notice”. Ya, no. Mommy noticed). Each time there were consequences. Each time the child was taught that the money that was spent was very real and now we don’t have it to spend on x, y or z. Not only that, but when you take something that’s not yours it has a name. Stealing. And you know what? My kids never did it again.
We need to change how we teach our children about money as the ways we spend it have changed. Ask yourself, when was the last time I held $100 cash in my hands to make a purchase. When was the last time my child saw me spend $100 cash, or even was aware of how much what I just purchased cost? How often has my kid seen me use some other form of payment for that same $100. Is the $100 cash worth more than the $100 spent electronically? No. But to a child who never sees the cash the money is valueless until they are taught otherwise.
Rewarding a 6 year old for doing this, for spending someone else’s money, without permission, and without care about the value of what was spent is going to lead to very real problems as she grows. This isn’t cute. This is funny. This was theft. This was the modern version of taking bubble gum (very expensive bubble gum) from the local corner store and mom and dad should have made her take it back. Or, at very least, not given it to her as Christmas.