Being a digital native doesn't seem to stop you from becoming a digital scam victim; figures show increasing numbers of Australian teenagers are being ripped off, as their developing brains make it difficult for them to spot a scam.
Last year children under 18 lost more than $170,000 to scams, according to the latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s latest annual scam report.
Suncorp Behavioural Economist Phil Slade said the prefrontal cortex is still developing in teenagers, making them unable to make decisions or solve problems as quickly as adults do so they are naturally more susceptible to being misled.
“One of the best ways to help our teens avoid being scammed is to teach them financial literacy skills at an early age, to help them question things when dealing with money,” Slade said.
Kids and scams
Financial Basics Foundation Chair Brigid Leishman said that the increasing volume of scams is just another reason that financial literacy must be addressed by schools.
“In today’s click and spend world, it’s important that we educate young people on how to make smart financial choices,” Leishman said.
“The online Suncorp ESSI Money Challenge where teenagers can learn about scams and dodgy deals in a safe place will launch on August 26. The Challenge is free for students to enter and we encourage every Australian high school student to take part.
The Financial Basics Foundation is calling on teachers to register from August 5 for their classes to enter the 2019 Suncorp ESSI Money Challenge. The Challenge teaches students valuable money lessons and tests their skills against students throughout Australia.
As well as bragging rights, the winning students have a chance to win up to $1500 for themselves and their school.
Slade said many teenagers fell for fake online shopping sites promising them bargains but delivering nothing.
“Many can act impulsively, they see something they really want, it looks cheap and they want to click on it and pay before they miss out,” he said.
How to talk to teens about scams