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Pocket money power

Urban youngsters increasingly crave — and get — affluence. But having it all can be as tricky as not having much Chitra Awasthi reports

education Updated: Dec 16, 2009 09:31 IST
Chitra Awasthi

Young adults today are socially aware, tech-savvy and clued into trends, says a new survey. These markers clearly indicate that today’s children are growing up in opulence.

Too much, too early

The survey, ‘New Generation 2009’, was conducted by the channel Cartoon Network last month, and it goes into details of the lifestyle and choices of young individuals. However, the survey seems to conceal more than it reveals. There are trends visible well beyond the range of the survey. Young people growing up amid affluence often get plenty of hard cash in hand long before they start earning. This can have repercussions. What is important is that they be told about the value of money and about responsible spending. The survey fails to address this issue.

How the collective consciousness of society shapes young minds is more important than the survey data — 63 per cent of the young people surveyed use mobile phones; 31 per cent have their own cell phones; and 19 per cent claim to have made online friends they have never met in real life.

This young and growing lot in India received a whopping Rs 664 crore in pocket money and gifted money in 2009, an increase of 39 per cent from Rs 478 crore last year.

Parental role

The problem in today’s society, particularly in urban India, is that most parents cannot spend quality time with their children and try to compensate for it with extra pocket money. Parents need to spend time with their kids, and lead by example. Unless parents control their urge to splurge, children will overspend and react against any attempt to monitor or curb them.

While acute deprivation is bad for the healthy growth of a child, opulence and indulgence without guidance is worse. All responsible parents should be aware of the negative effects and be ready to intervene.

Parents, too, may need help in dealing with this. In many developed countries, there are online programmes to help parents and kids share their feelings. Such a mechanism needs to be set up in India, too.

Use IT for info sharing

One way to do this is through information technology. Schools could introduce a system that would facilitate sharing among students, teachers and parents. For example, every guardian could have a unique login ID through which they, and only they, would access information about their ward’s progress on the school’s website. This would be a platform where a teacher can post comments and details about a student’s performance and discipline issues, and the student’s parents can track this information. Parents could also receive SMS alerts on their ward’s progress, attendance etc. The interface could also allow participation in e-assignments, and fun activities like quiz contests.

Such online interaction is just one of the safeguard mechanisms, not the whole solution. Parents must involve themselves with their children to the fullest extent possible, but in a way that is in sync with the times. Research shows that excessive parental control tends to make children more stressed, making them vulnerable to external influences. It is essential to opt for a friendly approach.

The author is an educationist and MD, Rit International