How a cashless society affects young people and low-income earners

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Directions: Read the summary, watch the videos and answer the discussion questions below. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here.

Summary: Only one in three purchases are made with cash, and young people, in particular, are being constantly bombarded with digital advertisements through their phones. Generation Z, those born from the mid-1990s to 2010, are adapting to a very different financial world from those of their parents or grandparents. This story takes a look at how the absence of tangible currency and the constant exposure to digital advertising affects young people’s relationship with money. While kids and teens have grown accustomed to online shopping and credit cards as paper currency becomes more of a thing of the past, financial literacy lessons like in-game purchases and video marketing schemes purposely directed at youth are important to examine.



Discussion questions:

1) Essential question: What are the benefits and drawbacks to a cashless culture?

2) Beth Kobliner mentions a study that people are more likely to feel that they got a good deal if they purchased something on their phones. How do phones and mobile money impact the perceived value of money? What benefits does mobile convenience bring for businesses? What compromises are made for the convenience of mobile money?

3) What impact does peer pressure and social media have on kids’ shopping habits and relationship with money?

4) Much of cashless culture revolves around the convenience of in-app purchases. Facebook revealed they made $34 million in in-app purchases made by minors earlier this year. How important are in-app purchases to the retail experience? What are the disadvantages of in-app purchases, specifically to youth?

5) How have your own spending habits changed with the advent of a more cashless culture? Does you attitude about money and its value change when you are shopping online and do not have paper money? How so?

Extension activity

Media Literacy: A key argument in the cashless culture debate involves its effects on low-income earners. Read this article by Vox about Philadelphia banning cashless stores. The decision was an attempt to counter the cashless culture movement which critics say excludes low-income buyers who do not have credit lines or the money to buy phones.

1) What impact will mobile money have on the purchasing power of low-income shoppers?

2) Do you think more cities should follow Philadelphia’s lead and ban cashless stores? Why or why not?

Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories. You can read the original story here@NewsHourExtra