Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition Reinforces a Culture of Debt

Over the weekend I was looking around for game ideas to include in our family fun nights. I remembered how much fun it was playing board games with my grandfather growing up. He taught me chess, checkers, Yahtzee and several other classic games in our times together. Since I wanted to put an educational spin on family fun night (and even better, a financial education spin) I thought about picking up Monopoly. What I found horrified me.

I had read some time ago that Monopoly was doing away with cash, but until I saw the packaging of the “Electronic Banking” version I had no idea just how ridiculous this idea was. Apparently, the marketing gurus at Parker Brothers thought it would be a good idea to drop Monopoly money for plastic banking cards. After all, it is so much “more convenient” than cash, right? The product description for the game on Amazon.com is almost laughable:

“The Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition game combines the best of classic Monopoly with updated electronic transactions. As with the original version, players still operate with money, learn real-world economics, competition and strategy, try to stay out of jail, and try their best to get filthy rich. But this version has been updated to reflect changes in how the real world uses money: All transactions are conducted with Monopoly’s new banking card system. Anyone from age 8 and up will enjoy this updated version of one of the world’s most famous games. “

Encouraging kids to use plastic over cash is a bad idea. While I’m sure Visa and Mastercard love the idea of kids getting acclimated to their products at eight years old, this Dad would never bring this product home. Kids need to learn that money comes in finite supply, and the old version of Monopoly Jr. helped reinforce that idea. If you used all your money to finance real estate purchases, and didn’t have enough rent coming in, you went broke. When your stack of money ran dry you were out of the game. Seeing the pile of money in front of them grow smaller and smaller helped kids understand the concept that you could not spend more than you earn – an idea most adults still haven’t figured out.

Comments

  1. Thanks for a spot on post Frugal Dad! I was as shocked as you are when I saw this. A real sign of our times, huh?

    Sadly, it isn’t the only game like it out there. I’ve seen several girl oriented board games that involve shopping and credit cards. The most insiduous was the Hello Kitty one I spied at Barnes and Noble right before Christmas. The recommended age level was six and up, because ‘no counting’ was necessary, as the credit card game piece kept track for you.

    Hopefully those of us who are responsible will raise a more frugal generation!

  2. “No counting” necessary…how sad. This explains why the kids working the drive-thru can’t make change without the aid of a computerized cash register.

  3. I bought this game, and I personally love it. It makes it easier by not having so much paper around to get lost and damaged…but I see your point about teaching children the wrong idea about money. I never thought of that when I bought it. Oh well, only my husband and I play this anyway.

  4. Oddly enough, I’ve been looking for this game to pair with the old, cash version. If you use a combination of the two, you can teach kids and teens responsible spending. It works as follows:

    1.) Use a piece of paper to keep score instead of the electronic thing.

    2.) Deal out cash, assign a credit limit.

    3.) Assign a realistic interest rate for the card. I usually make this around 25% per turn.

    Young adults will quickly see how fast debt can add up and how hard it is to get out of debt.

  5. I really, really hate this. Some of the updates to new games are so stupid and this is one of them. If you can, check your thrift stores too for board games. We have gotten almost all of ours for about .75 each. They might not be the newer editions, but we don’t care…especially when the updates are as bad as this.

  6. I agree, and was a bit suprised that my youngest son got this from his grandmother. If our children are not going to be in debt worse than our generation, this game is not helpful. They need to realize that a swipe of plastic, has to be paid for somewhere.

  7. Personally I love this. From a nonfinancial stand point it is way faster. It is a lot easier to know how much money you have. You don’t have to deal with not having change. From a financial stand point the game play hasn’t changed at all. You still can’t go into debt. It is a valuable lesson to be able to handle money without having to have the physical cash in front of you. Your children will almost surely own a debit card at some point in their life.

  8. If you still can’t go into debt during the game – then how is it different? Yes you’re using the card – but you aren’t charging. It’s like a debit card from your bank. Only difference I see is kids don’t learn to make change – and there’s less pieces to lose. Oh – and now it needs batteries.

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