Your Child Will Not Need Money

Ok, that isn’t entirely true. Of course your child will need “money.”  Just not the kind of money you’re used to.

And the system of money your child will use is emerging rapidly (like, hourly), and it will be important that you, as their guardian and partner in life, ramp up your knowledge of that system so that you can support their choices and opportunities within it.

By now, you certainly have heard of Bitcoin.  Chances are you don’t understand it one “bit” and that would put you in the company of most other people.  Bitcoin’s complexity is evidenced by the volumes of YouTube videos attempting to explain it. I have curated my favorites here.

Bitcoin is not only an early example of the type of currency your child will use (cryptocurrency), but it is an early example of the type of system that your child will experience in almost every aspect of life.  Bitcoin is like an app. There are numerous apps like it (more than 700 at the time of this post), and there are exponentially more with every day that passes.  Blockchain is the system or architecture in which apps like Bitcoin run.  Blockchain is more than a system.  It’s a new way of thinking about value and the exchange of value that will define a key difference between your world and that of your child’s.

“A recent World Economic Forum report predicts that by 2025 10% of GDP will be stored on blockchains or blockchain-related technology.” according to this Forbes article.

Many feel that this prediction is timid. If I were you, I would brace myself for a much more rapid transition for yourself personally and (if you are reading this as I publish it) as the parent of a child who will be racing toward early adulthood by 2025.

In an earlier blog post, I addressed the way in which we, as parents of digital natives, must adapt to a faster pace of innovation than our parents had to face.  This is an example where we really must adapt quickly, but at the same time, we must also allow ourselves to think differently.

In attempting to close the gap between your world and your child’s, I would encourage you not to reference familiar models, because today’s innovations are largely based on entirely new models of living, communicating, and organizing.  There just aren’t many reference points from our world. It’s a complete paradigm shift.

Most of the systems you and I experienced up until now were highly centralized. Our schooling, workplace, social network and yes, our money…centralized.  But your child’s experience will be defined by decentralized systems, webs, networks that spread control and orientation around.  If you were raised in centralized systems, you are likely to feel a tad queazy in those that are decentralized.  So don’t be surprised if your instinct is to resist.  But with or without you, decentralization is going to rule the day.

In a separate post, I will address how decentralization will effect your child’s school and work experiences.  Here we are focused on money or what is being called “the value revolution”.

Cryptocurrencies will do for money what the Internet did for communication.  Before the Internet, we had to pay someone or get permission to broadcast a message.  The Internet has allowed us to do that freely.  Cryptocurrency will remove the “broker” from the financial process.  This, of course, will rock the foundations of the centralized system and everyone who believes in it.

In addition, cryptocurrencies will allow numerous currencies to exist across borders, overlapping, perhaps interfacing, tied to massive as well as niche markets.  This means that your child will experience hundreds of currencies throughout his or her lifetime.  The idea of a currency tied to a geopolitical border will fade. Value will increasingly be tied to your child’s own networks and activities.

A pioneer and vocal proponent of cryptocurrency is Galia Ben-Artzi, co-founder of Bancor, an absolutely brilliant “ahead of its time” innovation that will make your child’s world of multiple currencies more fluid.  Galia’s recent TedxTalk is in this blog’s video archive and in my YouTube library.  Her inspiring vision of the future will give you goosebumps.
A few years ago, Ben-Artzi collaborated in the creation of a new blockchain currency that serves as a good example of what your child will experience.  It’s called Lev Market, and it allows mothers to purchase goods from one another in a trusted market place through “heart” currency. Within a year, there was more than $10 million in this community, as moms traded services such as baking cakes, taking lessons, buying goods and volunteering in schools – “all in hearts.”  (from this article).
Here is a video of a mom who participates in Lev Market explaining her value exchange.
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is.  And at the same time, blockchain is a massive and pervasive concept that will touch every element of your child’s life.  So we will pause for now and come back to blockchain in a few other contexts later on to better illustrate its impact.

Wake Up Call: Kids React to A Computer from the Early 80s

First, watch this.

Yes, the kids are adorable and their comments absolutely hysterical.  (And you can see more on my YouTube library of kids’ reactions to old technology.)

But as you watch, I want you to think about the deeper implications behind their reactions.

The pace of technological innovation has increased exponentially over the past few decades.  Change happens faster under our watch than it did under that of our parents.

Because the pace of change we experienced with our parents was slower, we actually shared appreciation for and adoption of certain technologies with them, such as (depending on your age) records and record players, remote controls, VCRs, Nintendo, CDs, DVDs, digital video and HD.

You may have even shared some element of early mobile phone experiences with your parents via flip phones and Blackberries. Perhaps you overlapped a bit with your parents in the use of the early computers.

For a significant part of our young lives, we shared experiences and common language with our parents about tech innovation.  This is because th

e pace of that innovation allowed us enough time to connect with our parents around it.

But even for us, there was a moment of departure where we zoomed ahead in tech adoption.  For a

gut-busting parody of this, see see Amy Schumer’s bit in which she tries to help her mom perform what we consider basic tasks on a computer.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 11.01.45 AM

So take Schumer’s example, and consider that the pace of change is now exponentially faster and so dynamic that you will have little opportunity to appreciate a new technology in the same way that your child will. You will struggle daily

to keep up with the pace of innovation and their interactions with it.  You will not have the luxury of time that our parents had.

To understand this better, imagine you are walking down the street with your child, and suddenly they race forward into the distance, disappearing completely from sight.  Technologically speaking, it will feel a lot like that.

Many of you already sense this and for some, the reaction to this trend is to try to limit or control your child’s access to technology.  In essence, you are putting a “leash” on your child, holding on for dear life as they struggle forward, dragging you down the street.

But is leashing the answer?  I would argue that as parents faced with an unprecedented pace of tech innovation, the answer is not to be gatekeepers, but to become informed partners

and advocates. I would argue that because the tech we are talking about will actually shape your child’s life opportunities, it is our responsibility to react differently.

I am moved by a quote from an organization I follow closely, The Institute for the Future, which rigorously studies future trends and suggests positive and groundbreaking applications.  On kids and tech, they say this:

New technologies are going to help many kids play the part of the magician. They will enchant us with their creations and sleight of hand. They will also amaze us with their ability to escape from the technological chains we’re tying them up with as well. We live in a world of fast and accelerating change. Kids are in some ways ideally prepared to deal with change, and may have more to say and more power to influence the world than at any other time in history. That new empowerment will be the real magic kids bring to the world, and it may be the magic that saves the world from us adults. We are very pleased to publically release this important forecast report, and we welcome your comments and critiques.

If you are curious, see the full text of this page to see what IFF believes the coming trends are for children and technology.

 

 

I leave you with these thoughts and invite you to explore future posts and our upcoming speaker series where we will build bold and future-oriented templates for parenting the digital native.