Let’s not get too dramatic over children making cashless payments

I have to disagree with Lim Pei Fen’s argument about how cashless payments are bad for children (see her full transcript below).

In adult life, we have to deal with money in the form of digits on an electronic screen. Frequently people mismanage their funds precisely because they think that it is merely just a bunch of numbers and it doesn’t feel like “spending”.

For example: credit cards. People go out of control because they don’t think they’re spending money at all. It is just a swipe of a card, they forget that this is real money being paid even if it is some numbers on a screen.

Let’s not unnecessarily make it too emotional. 

Once upon a time, television and computer games were evil technologies that would rot the minds of children and turn them into zombies, it didn’t turn out this way and in contrary society appears to be more caring, much more brilliant and more creative than ever before.

With social media, we’re staying in touch with our friends from all around the world better and more often. This is not possible without technology.

Skype, AirBnB, Uber, Grab – these are all technologies that gave us possibilities, without which we’ll still be griping about how big government and big corporations bully the small person.

The smart phone is an exo-brain giving us the power to recall, recollect and discover new information at will. You couldn’t do this before.

Every new generation has new technology that the previous generation would hate and cannot understand. Nothing has changed and we should not bastardise it or deprive our children of being accustomed to it.

All this technology is their future, not ours.

It is very good that children are learning that the numbers on their smart watches mean something. It is very good that they experience this type of transaction at a young age, than to mismanage it at an older age.

We are not losing wisdom and intelligence, we are in fact gaining from it.

Here’s a transcript in case you can’t see the FB post above:

I’m writing this because I want to remind myself not to conform and forget. Not before I figure out why.

In our bid to become a smart nation, are we inadvertently forgoing some wisdom and intelligence?

As a parent, I’m concerned about the cashless system that is reportedly going to be implemented in primary schools.

I’m all for embracing new technology that will bring about convenience and perhaps reduce waste, but I can’t help feeling we may be skipping some important steps.

Back in primary school, I remember learning about the value of money and how to spend wisely, by planning my expenditure at the start of every school week when my parents handed me the week’s allowance. It was important for me to see the notes and coins, to count them every day, because the physical presence of cash reminded me of how much or how little I actually had.

I also experienced first-hand the benefits of being thrifty when I tried my best to save up, one coin a day, for an idol’s latest cassette tape album or a best friend’s present. The sound of a dropping coin hitting the top of the heap that’s rising every day. The satisfaction in that weighted knowledge that my goal is within reach.

I kept a little purse in my bag for my daily allowance, making sure I kept it carefully and never lost it. I understood responsibility: if I lost it, I would have no money left for the day. If I lost it, my parents would be upset. I bore my little responsibility to the best of my ability, and when I failed, I tasted the consequence.

I picked up social skills by communicating with the aunties and uncles who manned the different stalls in the school canteen. Most of the time our conversation would involve Aunty or Uncle telling me the price of my purchase, and while I struggled with my coins and notes, as long as I remembered to be polite and smile, Uncle or Aunty would wait patiently and praise me for finally getting it right, or kindly correct me if I paid the wrong amount.

I can go on. But, what do I know. I’m just an old-fashioned cynic who’s stuck in a rut.

Maybe someone can explain to me the reason behind all the haste. The haste to make our kids adults before they have time to be kids. The rush to make them so technologically advanced before they even grasp values that will actually help them use technology sensibly and ethically in future. The educational value in replacing face-to-face physical transactions with human-to-machine cashless payments.

Do enlighten me, so I can be better prepared to explain to Luke when he asks.

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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