2019-05-15 12:34:29

Chinese educators are recommending that couples begin teaching their children to be responsible with money as early as possible, following a series of cases in which kids were found to have spent large sums of money on virtual gifts for livestreamers, according to an article Tuesday in the official newspaper of the All-China Women’s Federation.

With the right attitude toward money, “children won’t feel rebellious or inferior,” Kang Liying, director of the Family Education Research Center at Capital Normal University in Beijing, was quoted as saying in the report.

Last week, China’s Communist Youth League outlined incidents from the past two years in which children had made eye-popping donations to livestreamed video hosts — which is possible if an app store on the device they use to view the stream is linked to a parent’s bank account.

In April 2018, a mother in central China’s Henan province learned that her 10-year-old son had spent 50,000 yuan ($7,300) to reward a gamer on one of China’s Twitch-like streaming platforms. The money was supposed to go toward the boy’s father’s funeral, according to the mother, who claimed to be sick with cancer herself.

In 2017, a 14-year-old boy from the southwestern Sichuan province spent his parents’ life savings — just over 160,000 yuan — on virtual gifts for a livestreamer. His parents had managed to save so much despite working in a garment factory where they would each sew nearly 1,000 pairs of pants a day, according to media reports. The boy said the streamer’s responses — kissy faces or just simple thank-yous — made him feel “a sense of being.”

Livestreaming platforms are sometimes blamed when such incidents occur, prompting some to add built-in alert mechanisms — texting an adult when there is activity on their account, for example. But experts believe that teaching children to be responsible stewards of money can help prevent these incidents, too.

Though wealth management courses aren’t offered at the vast majority of schools in China, they have been introduced at primary schools in cities like Lanzhou and Shenzhen — and even schools that don’t offer dedicated finance classes have their own methods for teaching fiscal responsibility.

A Shanghai kindergarten teacher surnamed Shen told Sixth Tone on Wednesday that many local kindergartens have designed simple games to help children understand how money is used to purchase goods and services. “For kids aged 3 to 6, they’re able to grasp simple concepts — like how money has to be earned and doesn’t grow on trees,” she told Sixth Tone. “The parents work hard to make money, so it should be spent according to their wishes.”

Gong Shuhua is the mother of a fourth-grader in Shanghai. She told Sixth Tone that her son’s public school arranges classes on money management, including teaching students how to keep a record of their spending, calculate interest rates, and other financial skills. But Gong has reservations about the course. “I don’t know the extent to which it can benefit a child who still lacks sound judgment for his age,” she said. “I’d rather my son not be too money-oriented.”

Professor Kang argues that the importance of parent-provided education cannot be understated. “Teaching wealth management will help improve children’s self-discipline,” she said. “They can build the right values when it comes to consumption.”

Kang believes such training is important not only for spending money wisely, but also for forging stronger relationships between family members. “It enables families to have deep conversations and build mutual understanding,” she said. “Together, they can make smarter financial decisions and better plan for the future.”

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: Students learn to distinguish real bank notes from fakes at a primary school in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, Feb. 26, 2018. VCG)