The world is a big and beautiful place.
Unfortunately, it is also filled with unethical people who are trying to take advantage of the innocent and the naive at every turn. Your kids may be too young to have been burned, but that doesn't mean they aren't old enough to start protecting themselves. Teach them about scams and con artists and then bring it all home for them with this short, interactive activity.
To talk to your kids about con artists, gently explain that there are some people who will always try to cheat others out of their money or personal information.
Your child may have actually been hustled on the playground when a dominant child promised to give them a toy for a set amount of money and then took their money but "forgot" the toy at home the next day. And the next day. And the next. Or, a classmate may have marketed a toy as the genuine thing when it was actually just a bootleg version of the real one. Online scams are another area where your kids may have encountered fraud.
To begin the activity, help familiarize your children with these four rules:
- Never agree to give anyone money for a toy or candy until you see the object that is for sale.
- Never give money for something until you've received the item.
- Never give anyone your personal information, whether online or in person, without your parents' permission.
- Never download anything onto your phone or computer without your parents' permission.
Once your kids have the rules down pat, begin role-playing with them. Act out a scenario where you play the initiator of a business deal or act like someone using a phone or computer. Be sure to verbalize loudly what you are typing or downloading. When your child suspects a scam, they need to shout "scam alert!"
When your child has successfully spotted all your "scams," switch roles and let them be the dominant actor in the scenarios with you acting as scam-spotter.
Your child will now be ready to face the most crooked con artists out there!
Have you made your child scam-smart? Share your success with us in the comments!