Can Candy Crush Saga make young people more financially literate?

How can we encourage young people to be more engaged with their finances? Chris Daems argues the battleground is not just in our classrooms, but also online.

Could Candy Crush help young people become more financially literacy?
There’s a debate which stretches over a number of different aspects of our society. It’s happening in the press, it’s happening among financial planning professionals and it’s happening in the money related third sector(in charities and not for profits like PFEG).

Financial literacy, especially among children, is a contentious issue. Many see as an issue which needs to be tackled vigorously while others see no evidence of the projects in schools showing better outcomes and therefore don’t see the benefit of mass financial education.

Take action

I sit firmly in the former camp. I think we need to take action to help our children become better citizens financially and that any historic projects have been piecemeal at best and therefore were always destined not to be particularly effective. We need to take action, we need to do it properly and we need to test the outcomes to confirm it works

But I reckon there’s one additional thing we need to do I think we need to learn lessons from a current phenomenon to understand how to do it in the most effective way. That phenomenon is…

… Candy Crush Saga

The makers of candy crush understand how people work and when you play candy crush or Farmville or any of the online games which have users in their millions you can clearly see the techniques they use to incentivise people to play the game.
It starts with small (non-financial) rewards. A ‘trophy’ there, a ‘medal’ many of which you can show to your online community as a way to show you’re achieving within the game.

Social rewards

Which then moves onto the next part of the puzzle… social.

Candy Crush encourages you to share both online and offline. It’s been so successful I had a friend tell me recently how “proud” he was of getting to level 135 of Candy Crush (accompanied by me shaking my head in mild bemusement)…

Is it sticky?

And the third thing is stickability. Make it easy to use, but challenging enough to get people coming back.
Candy Crush is a game which for its users people want to play time and time and time again.
I’ve often wondered if you bottled the addictiveness of online gaming for the greater good of financial literacy what a potentially potent combination that could be.

Teaching financial literacy in the classrooms is fine. But if we could use our classrooms as a starting point to deliver something ‘viral’ that kids want to play surely this would deliver some of the outcomes we want as a society.

So, to encourage financial literacy in our society we need to not only look at our classrooms but start looking at playing in the battleground of our children’s attention.

The online battlefield

Therefore as a society we need to develop something compelling enough to compete with the likes of Farmville and Candy Crush to live in a more financially enlightened society in the future.

What do you think?

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