Experience of handling cash priceless for the young

The POSB Smart Buddy scheme may eliminate the hassle of handling cash for children and parents, but the tactile experience of managing cash is still priceless for the young (Pupils go cashless with smartwatches; Aug 17).

When my son entered Primary 1, what excited him most was having his own pocket money and buying his own food.

He had to make decisions based on the length of the queue and the cost of the food. He then had to count his change to ensure it was correct.

Digital payments would erase these experiences.

How would children learn the value of counting, budgeting, making discerning choices and managing their money if all they do is tap a smartwatch on a machine?

Most importantly, I worry that if children are not exposed to the tactile experience of handling cash, they will have no inkling of where money comes from and believe that money grows in a computer.

This is similar to the phenomenon of children being unaware of the origins of the food they eat - a poll of 1,000 children in Britain showed that 5 per cent believed strawberries grew inside the fridge, a quarter didn't know carrots grew underground, and 78 per cent didn't know broccoli grew on a plant.

Sometimes, age-old traditions are there for a reason.

Nothing can replace the tactile experience of receiving pocket money for the first time, and filling up a piggy bank with coins saved from one's allowance.

Huang Shoon Lheng (Ms)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Experience of handling cash priceless for the young'. Print Edition | Subscribe