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Economic turmoil turned into kids product opportunities

These days, many parents are looking to impart money management skills to their kids, and two enterprising US companies have just launched products to help them do it.
March 3, 2009

These days, many parents are looking to impart money management skills to their kids, and two enterprising US companies have just launched products to help them do it.

SmartyCard.com, a PayPal-like system targeting seven to 12-year-olds, is one such platform that blends entertainment and play spending with a ‘learn-earn-and-play’ message. Not only does it let kids play in popular virtual words or make parent-approved purchases of DVDs, music, book and toys, it also ensures that some of their computer time is spent on educational activities.

Kids create accounts at SmartyCard.com, which are then funded by parents. Young ones explore a variety of classroom subjects through quizzes and problem sets developed with online educational content providers. SmartyCard doles out reward points for correct answers that depend on the level of the questions’ difficulty. The points can then be redeemed for real-world rewards, from music downloads at iTunes toWebkinz goodies and online memberships at Club Penguin, Stardoll and Bella Sara.

SmartyCard gift cards will be available for purchase at big box retailers and major grocery store and drug store chains later this year.

San Francisco, California-based licensing agency Dimensional Branding Group, meanwhile, has signed on to rep MoneyWizdom, which helps parents teach their five-to-eight year-old kids how to spend, save and share their dollars with real money. DBG is looking to develop a licensing program for the brand in non-traditional toys and games, publishing and interactive categories.

Currently, the MoneyWizdom KidsKit is the brand driver and includes a Getting Started Guide, complete with colorful money pouches that give kids their own place to put their money. The KidsZone, an online hub where kids can learn how to build money habits, manage budgets and practice new money skills while playing games, is also part of the brand.

For the parents, a members-only website serves as a resource. Content includes info culled from a panel of education specialists, and access to a library of topics on matters like motivating children and encouraging responsibility. There’s also the MW Blog, where parents can link up with others using the program to find out what they’re doing, post opinions, experiences, share success stories and ask questions.

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