Their casual attitude towards carrying debt might be fostered by games that use credit cards for fun. Personal finance author, radio host and Early Show contributor Dave Ramsey feels that games and other gifts can send your kids some of the wrong messages about money.
While most of us grew up playing Life and Monopoly - in fact, who didn't practice making change while being the Monopoly banker? - these days even popular childhood characters are carrying plastic - Dora the Explorer, for instance, and Barbie.
"It's out of control," said Ramsey. "McDonald's did a focus group study for adults that says when you use a credit card at McDonald's, you spend 47% more than you do if you're using cash." Among the Christmas toys released this year: "a new McDonald's
cash register teaching kids to use plastic.
"As a parent, you go it's a McDonald's thing, Barbie, we're not mad at Barbie or Dora.
But we don't stop and think, what message are we giving these kids?"
The game of Life is branded by Visa. And the new Monopoly version has a credit card payment system, as well. "We're teaching kids the mentality of life takes Visa," Ramsey said. "This is how you enjoy your life. If I want to look like Barbie, or have an adventure like Dora, I need a credit card . . . I'm not Chicken Little. Debit cards are okay. But this is ridiculous, when you brand something to teach a kid, 'this is how to live your life.'"
Ramsey offered some suggestions for parents grappling with what to buy their children for the holidays: