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.