• Scott Paly

Today’s teens need mentors, even if they don’t know it.

Is your teen fully benefiting from his or her time in high-school or college? Do they understand what it takes to become successful?

Did you know that often a few shared words from someone who made it on his or her own, might open your child’s eyes to a more meaningful education and help them as they become young adults?

So many young people today gauge money as the litmus test for success and by most standards, that’s how we judge as well.

Here’s my definition of success: It’s not how much money you have. It’s about pursuing your passion and doing it well.

If you fulfill your passion, you don’t have to be rich. You just need to be more careful how you spend what you earn and how you save for the things you need, and for retirement. If you can achieve this, then in my opinion you are a success.

TV, social media and ads are all about the “bling.” It’s a false picture. Our kids spend money on the “now” without understanding about saving for the future, buying a car or a home, dealing with an emergency, family needs or saving for retirement. It is a tragedy that so many Americans don’t have more than $10,000 in cash put away for retirement.

What would it be worth to you, if I told you that your child’s high school created a course that would teach them how to make better choices in life? Well, most haven’t.

Wouldn’t it be great if your teen understood the value of mentors and knew how to approach someone to mentor him or her? Don’t you think it would give them a better chance making the right choices in their life?

Most young adults don’t know:

  • What a team of mentors is and how a mentor can be of benefit to them

  • Who should be on their "team"

  • How to invite someone to be a part of the team

  • How to discuss with their mentor(s) the issues they think that a mentor could help them with

  • Why he or she should care about the situation they are in and the choices made

Now, think about what your teen should know but most likely does not -

  • How to get into college, opening a bank account, applying for a credit card and building their credit and credit score; how to interview, buy or lease a car, write a resume, finances and how to be successful at work;

  • How to find and interview a roommate, starting a family, financing a college education, saving for the future – how insurance works and why you need it, and so much more.

One thing teens know about is social media.

Teens are leaving FACEBOOK at an alarming rate. So where are they going? If you said Instagram, Snapchat and China’s newcomer Tik Tok – you’re right. All three are geared towards 13 to 28-year old’s. As harmless as they seem, many teens don’t have the right balance in their lives to offset the influence & impact that these social media platforms exert on them.

Social media looks for ways to influence our children.

Why is teen behavior important to businesses, brands, public figures, movie stars and politicians? According to an article in SocialMediaToday, “if you watch what tweens and teens do on social media, you can predict the next great purchasing trends.” You can influence decisions across all spectrums of demographics.

Businesses are constantly pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into social media marketing and much more in online advertising. They want your child’s current and future spending power. Spend now and worry about saving for the future, basically never!

Generation Z (teens and tweens) accounts for a staggering $44 billion in discretionary spending each year. By 2020 they are estimated to be the largest group of consumers in the US totaling a whopping $143 billion in spending (SocialMediaToday).

  • According to FONA International, today’s teens possess a strong sense of self, are digitally dependent, take less risks but follow trusted brands and are globally connected to many different types of social groups and behaviors.

  • 80% of teens think they are financially responsible with their money, yet a majority show interest in things they can’t afford (Mintel).

So, where do teens spend their (or your) money? Try foods, cosmetics, video games, clothing & accessories, online shopping (i.e. Amazon), footwear and smart devices.

According to an article in Lexington Law: 45% of teens are concerned about not being able to live on their own; 47% of teens worry about paying for college and 40% of teens are concerned with finding a fulfilling, well-paying job.

Where does all this money come from to support Gen Z purchases? According to CrowdTwist, IBM and Lexington Law

  • 59% comes from allowances (your money)

  • 24% from part time work

  • 22% receive money as gifts

  • 16% work for themselves and

  • 9% work full-time

This does not take into account what you spend on your child.

Our children are raised to be consumers, which is fine, as long as they have the ability to manage basic life skills including their finances and how to save for the future.

Who guides your child on the path to make sound decisions?

Here’s a recent excerpt from a FOX Business article, “Many students entering college haven’t mastered basic life skills such as changing a tire or balancing a checkbook, so some universities are responding with noncredit workshops sometimes called Adulting 101.”

The article goes on to say “When high schools began focusing on core subjects for testing, classes known as home economics or family and consumer science began to decline.“

By 2012, fewer than 3.5 million students were taking such classes, a 38% drop in a decade. Imagine what it is today!

Our teens and young adults seem to be smarter than our generation was. But many of today’s young adults lack the basic knowledge, how to make decisions that will impact their future.

This Z Gen is in a transformational age of virtual realities, mixed messages and influenced by many types of local and global social groups, cultures and behaviors.

My question is, why don’t we teach these fundamental life skills at an earlier age in high school and why haven’t our educators recognized this need, or have they?

We are seeing more and more university students asking for life skill courses because they haven’t had exposure to this in high school. How can you not provide your teen with the tools they need to make good decisions and choices?

Poor decisions can lead to unfortunate circumstances.

A point in case: a recent NBC news article about Instagram warns that teens are changing their personal profiles to business profiles to gain access to a higher level of Instagram metrics’. Did you know that business accounts allow other Instagrammers to see your child’s personal data including name, email and mobile number and it is now public data (Google search).