Back to School With a Little Digital Lunch Money

Maybe you are smarter than a third grader? But who is fastest with that i-pad or new smart phone app in your house? Chances are if your home is like most, the younger the faster.

And if you think you are starting to feel like you're getting left in the digital dust now, just wait. When your first grader starts talking about crypto currency, don't be surprised when a piggy bank is about as valued as your house phone.

It's that time of year again, back to school time - and this year your child's syllabus might just include digital currency. At least, that's what some companies, and even kids, would like. A new wave of educational tools, apps, games, and child-friendly crypto-currency has emerged, and they are all aimed at teaching children about digital currency, starting from a very young age.

When I was in third grade, our financial education involved watching Mom write out a check, a practically obsolete skill these days. So it should come as no surprise that, with the Bitcoin surge, crypto-currency would be incorporated into current curriculums. Although it probably won't be on your child's syllabus this fall, it's only a matter of time until digital currency makes its way onto the class schedule. We've seen it before - as technology moves forward, schools are usually forced to catch up by updating their course offerings. After all, how long ago did most schools sadly stop offering Home Economics in favor of Computer Science?

For now, there are still plenty of ways that children can learn about digital currency outside of school. Proponents of a "digital currency revolution" recently released an app entitled "The Bitcoin Alphabet - For Kids and Everyone Else," which explains the ABCs of Bitcoin concepts through illustrations and drawings. Additionally, kids can check out a social media site called BitKidz that is filled with tutorials, recent news on Bitcoins, and even offers both a learning center and children's book featuring success stories of kids between 9 - 12 years old who have earned money with Bitcoins.

At that age I was more concerned with playing outside with other kids (yes, in-person, Generation Y), not delving into the world of digital money. But a look at Reddit threads , and 15-year old Bitcoin entrepreneurs shows that the demand is there. Kids today seem very interested in the subject.

Taking the learning process a step further is Piggy Coin, an actual digital currency designed for kids. Piggycoin is a real, working crypto-currency that children can only earn by correctly answering questions in educational online games. Once earned, the Piggycoins are deposited into each child's digital wallet - today's version of a timeless learning tool, the piggy bank.

I suppose that in an age where children are no longer encouraged to think for themselves - where we even have shoes that vibrate to tell you where to turn (in case your GPS combusts while your Smart Phone suddenly fails)- we should be grateful that children are being rewarded for actual learning.

Once you've earned your Piggy Coins, you can spend them online at the Piggy Store, which I must say does not sound all that rewarding to me. Not only does the Piggy Store have a fairly limited merchandise selection, unless of course you love pigs, but the tangible rewards of learning about money are missing from the equation.

Although an undeniably valuable learning tool for kids, Piggycoins lack some of the basic teaching capabilities of an old-fashioned piggy bank. For example, when the coins are in your physical possession, you can actually count them, and add up the total for yourself - a critical lesson in money that your digital wallet will deprive you of. Not to mention kids will forego the inevitable satisfaction of breaking the piggy bank open and basking in the glory of their earnings.

Smashing the piggy bank is a symbol of success. You work hard to earn and save up all of those coins, and once the bank is full, you throw it, drop it, hit it with a hammer, anything to unleash your coins. Once they emerge from the ceramic animal, like candy from a piñata, you can feel them, throw them, hold them up and let them slide through your fingertips and hit the floor in a wave of sound that signals you're rich. Now that's a rewarding experience - and a far cry from simply checking your account on a computer screen.

It's the same reason coin-free slot machines will never compare to traditional models. When you print out a piece of paper telling you what you've won, it just doesn't stir the same excitement as hearing those coins drop into the tray.

Piggycoin has already forged relationships with several schools, and will be in classrooms for kids of all ages very soon. As the company works to expand upon its network, it's fairly safe to say that downloading a digital wallet might soon be on your child's back to school to-do list.

On the bright side, we already know that kids never leave the house without their smart phones, so at least now maybe they can use them at school for something useful - to pay for their lunch via digital currency.