The children of the 1980s know a thing or two about extravagant consumerism. Young enough to have absorbed a tide of youth marketing messages and not old enough to have directly suffered previous economic recessions, they learned how to spend on fashion and lifestyle wants. Enjoying an adulthood of easy credit and low unemployment, they are themselves largely unprepared for the current financial downturn.
As the recession bites, Generation X must begin to instil financial smarts in their own children, dubbed ‘Generation Z’, or simply ‘Zeds’. Recent studies have shown that this new group are substantially different than previous generations – living largely virtual lives through social networking and personal entertainment solutions which remain glued to their sides, such as iPODs and mobile telephones.
These ‘digital kids’ are highly receptive to marketing messages and lack the general antipathy and derision toward overtly persuasive communications demonstrated by Gen Y. As such, they are vulnerable to poor financial management – ‘plugged in’ 24/7 and warmly accepting of marketing approaches, these young consumers are sitting ducks for exploitation.
Recent studies into this group, such as that published by social demographer, Mark McCrindle, have been accompanied by efforts throughout the community to address this emerging issue and protect young consumers. Financial institutions throughout Australia have taken up the baton to promote financial literacy in line with Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives (CSR) and independent organisations have begun to take more targeted steps toward education in financial management.
US financial expert Loral Langemeier, identifies a lack of positive information on financial matters as applicable to young consumers and has collaborated with Australian organisation, Money Toolkits, to develop a ‘how to’ text for parents to use as a blueprint in developing financial literacy in children.
“This generation is exposed to more marketing messages, much earlier than previous generations,” claims Nicole Clemow of Money Toolkits. “It is so important to reach them with positive messages that show not only can you manage money responsibly but you can build capital and personal wealth and create a comfortable lifestyle for yourself.”
In the book, Loral Langemeier – a respected financial expert worldwide, has outlined the lack of capacity for teachers to handle this material in schools:
“Very few are likely to be able to model and teach how to become an entrepreneur and/or how to make money work for you through investing in assets that generate income. Most of them never learnt it themselves and don’t have it on their radar as being important. They are more likely to teach what they model themselves -study hard, go to college (university) and get a secure, well paid job.”