Timeout New York Kids

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In China, carnivals (and career days) are getting a makeover. By October 2008, a day spent at a theme park won’t necessarily spell mouse ears and princess castles. At the Kids City in Hangzhou, children ages five to ten years old will get to try out whichever jobs interest them (from a choice of more than 50 careers) in a pint-size town with supermarkets, schools, hospitals and even an airport. The burg is the first of its kind in China, but similar parks have been successful in Japan and Mexico. We just hope they still have funnel cakes and cotton candy.

Speaking of transforming young ones into grown-ups, the New York Times suggests that parents hold off on doling out fixed-value credit cards until their children are truly money-savvy, rather than just money-spending. Companies market the cards—essentially debit cards used as charge cards—as a way for kids to work up to using real plastic. In fact, one company calls the system a “financial training program”on its Web site. Parents who use these cards as a cash-allowance substitute say that because the cards have a fixed value, kids can’t overcharge and get into debt; plus, mom and dad can check online and see where kids are spending the money. But financial experts worry that kids who never handle real cash and don’t become acquainted with withdrawing and depositing into checking accounts may have problems with money management later in life. We have to agree: With the mounting debt problem in this country, do kids really need practice in letting someone else pay their bills?

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