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Kids need training to become savvy consumers

Children get their own ATM at Luzerner Kantonalbank Keystone

Children should be protected from advertising – especially for unhealthy snacks – according to a report by Switzerland’s Federal Commission for Child and Youth Affairs. They also need training in handling money and sticking to a budget.

On Monday, the commission released a report on juvenile consumer behaviour. Calling for early intervention and advert-free spaces, the report was prepared with the input of marketing specialists, consumer advocates and researchers who examined how susceptible young people were to advertising and how much support they required to become responsible consumers.

When it came to advertising, they discovered that children were more vulnerable than adults and more easily manipulated. The researchers also found that parents played a critical role on the consumer behaviour of children through their values, practices and status as role models.

The report calls for children to be protected against damaging marketing – citing that an average ten-year-old today is aware of 300 to 400 brands. It wants schools and other spaces that welcome children to be free from advertisements. It encourages voluntary schemes such as the “Swiss Pledge”, where companies agree to avoid advertising unhealthy food products to children under 12 years of age. Other product categories like toys and mobile phones should also participate in such voluntary schemes, the report says.

Falling into debt is not a major problem among young people, but childhood and youth is the best time to lay the groundwork to avoid going into debt as an adult. Key areas where youth slip up include paying taxes and mandatory health insurance. The report therefore recommends early training in financial issues like taxes, health insurance, rental contracts, household budgets and credit cards.

The report also states that it is important to not only transmit financial knowledge to young people but to give them opportunities to apply what they have learnt. Suggested activities include managing pocket money, participating in family budget planning, and taking an active interest in the class and holiday fund at school.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR