Why wouldn’t you give an eight-year-old a pre-paid debit card?

“Would you give a debit card to an eight-year-old?” reads the headline, followed by a yes/no survey.  Just watch those No votes stack up.

The story is based on news that, as of today (15 November), children as young as eight will be able to use a debit card to shop online. The prepaid Visa card can also be used in selected shops and to withdraw cash, although parents will be able to set controls.

So let’s examine our reflexes here – and ask some different questions about an eight-year-old child. 

Would you let them go to the corner shop for a pint of milk for you?

Would you give them pocket money?

Would you let them spend their pocket money by themselves in a local toy shop?

Would you let them choose a book on Amazon and spend a birthday money token on it? 

Would you let them use a swipe card for the school dinners?

And the most important questions of all – does your eight-year-old know about money management?  Does she or he know the difference between saving and borrowing, or between spending money on “needs” and spending money on “wants”?

Because all those questions are far more relevant.  Along with this one – do you trust yourself with your own debit and credit cards?

A pre-paid debit card is simply another form of putting money in your child’s pocket.  Nothing to be feared provided the child understands what it is for, how it works and when to use it. Exactly the same as £20 of birthday money in a purse.

The real problem is that no-one is taking responsibility for teaching children about money management in today’s complex financial market.  There is a growing campaign for financial education to part of the national curriculum, but many schools still don’t find the time to teach this most crucial of skills.

Many parents struggle with their own finances and shy away from discussing money management with their children.  It’s perceived as something children should be shielded from, not a basic adult skill they should learn as soon as possible.

So if your answer to “would you give your eight-year-old a debit card” is no, then perhaps the problem is yours, not the child’s.