RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - From debit cards to digital pay apps, the latest generation of kids are growing up using less and less cold-hard cash. There’s little doubt the trend is likely to continue.
But what impacts are digital dollars having on our kids?
When 14-year-old Gabriel Greenbaum got his first electronic cash card, he was ready to get into the financial game.
"It's like you're playing an app,” said Greenbaum. “Once you're broke, you lose."
That’s how it works, but it’s not a game. It’s the basic rule of finance.
Greenbaum, like many of today’s kids, is learning the high-tech way.
"Cashless kids are the wave of the present and the future. It is here," said consumer money expert Jayne Pearle.
Pearle says today’s kids are the first of the “paperless money generation,” often monitoring savings and spending with a simple swipe or click - thanks to cash apps, direct deposit once they work and, perhaps at some point, even cryptocurrency.
Pearle says while there are many potential benefits to digital finances - such as instant transfer of funds or the ability to view balances anytime anywhere - there is a potential downside.
"I think, especially with younger children, they really don't understand what they can't see and touch," said Pearle.
She says it can be tough to get kids to realize numbers on a screen equate to real money. In fact, pulling out the plastic put Greenbaum $200 in debt.
"You don't really know how much money you have, unless you're constantly checking your phone or your account," said Greenbaum.
"The lesson he learned is to just to be on top of that. It's a great lesson," said Greenbaum's dad, Bob Lancer.
Lancer, who is also a parenting expert, says technology is here to stay, so he wants both his kids to be savvy in all forms of finance.
Pearle agrees, but she says it’s critical to make sure your kids know it’s not only easier to lose track of balances, but also incur extra fees. And that’s not all.
"I think there's also a greater chance of identity theft when there's no paper trail...when everything is online or in the cloud."
Greenbaum is most concerned about the debt on his card – making him a little gun-shy about plastic. He says for now, he's going old school.
"I'd rather use cash,” said Greenbaum.
In these changing financial times, experts say, it’s more important than ever that parents teach their kids financial savvy techniques, monitor their spending and model good financial habits themselves.