Becoming crypto wise: why teens need a safe space to play, explore and learn

With the rise of Web3, there is a need to create a safe space for teens to become crypto wise.

Guest blog for doshi from a teacher and parent

Gen Zs were born surrounded by digital technologies. For them, using a pen to wind up a cassette or renting a VHS tape from Blockbusters are not memories, they’re just anecdotes shared by millennials on TikTok.

Back in 2001 — when Gen Zs were still infants — US author Marc Prensky came up with the term digital native to describe millennials growing up surrounded by technologies. Everyone else in the US, born pre 1980, was considered a digital immigrant.

It’s no surprise that a typical teen can find their way around a new app more easily than their grandparents could. But there was a common misconception that digital natives must be experts. What could parents and teachers add if young people already understand emerging technologies and can navigate the internet better than digital immigrants? Fast forward to 2022 and we know that young people definitely need support with this, especially when it comes to managing online risks.

Prensky later revised his approach, adding on digital wisdom. He explained that a digitally wise person not only knows how to use digital technologies, but also has a capacity to critically evaluate them, make ethical choices and more pragmatic decisions.

He emphasised that we can’t assume young people know everything about using digital technologies just because they were born into a digital world.

Now, let’s consider the crypto world and emerging decentralised innovations. Blockchain technology is evolving and new cryptocurrencies are being created. We’re also looking toward the next generation of the internet, with Web3.

Teens playing games like Roblox or Fortnite already experience some of what Web3 has to offer. And they will be the ones involved in shaping its future. They’re growing up in a world where they will see a rise in digital currencies. And they might even play a part in blockchain technology evolving and expanding across different industries.

With a fairly short history to look back on, we’re effectively watching crypto, and the tech behind it all, evolve in real time. It’s in the news and in the latest crypto white papers. It’s exciting and confusing all at the same time. Young people want to trade and collect NFTs (digital assets like art, music and videos); they want to explore and interact with Web3; and learn how to invest in crypto.

We know that when teens want to learn something new, they’re pretty good at googling it. But we can’t assume they already have the skills and knowledge they need to make sense of all the information they find. None of us are born experts. There’s no such thing as a crypto native.

Teens need to learn how to spot misinformation and avoid scams. They need the basics of finance, economics and investing. Ultimately, what they need is the opportunity to explore, learn, make mistakes and mitigate risks so that they can gain the confidence and knowledge they need to make independent decisions later on, some of which will be financial ones. Is the alternative waiting until they turn 18 and then just letting them get on with it?

Thankfully, teaching children important skills around managing online risks and managing their money is included within the UK school curriculum, as it should be. However, it’s not easy to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to what young people need to know about Web3 or the ways in which blockchain is changing finance. There’s a need for input from more specific experts too.

Yes, teens might find it easier than their parents to set up a digital crypto wallet, for example. But we can’t assume they’ll immediately know how to use it in a secure way.

They need support, guidance, education — and most importantly a safe space to explore —  as they learn the ropes and become crypto wise.

Doshi is creating a safe space for teens to learn about and explore crypto, with supervision from their parents and without the fear of being scammed. You can find out more about our digital crypto wallet that’s suitable for teens, here.

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