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From a very young age, your child has been consuming goods and services and has also had a say in many family purchases. One day, they will be responsible for their own consumer choices and will have to consider their needs and budget, among other factors.
The Office de la protection du consommateur offers a range of tools and activities to help kids in primary school and teens in high school become informed consumers.
Before your child can make sound choices, they must first be able to distinguish between a need and a want and be able to understand how advertising influences them.
To do at home
As a parent, you can help your child develop good consumer reflexes by talking to them about consumption early. To open up the dialogue, ask simple questions like:
To find answers to these questions and others, explore our activities with your child.
As a teenager, your child faces new consumer challenges because so many more opportunities are opening up to them.
This is an ideal context for learning that will serve them all through life, like developing critical thinking about advertising, knowing their consumer rights and the recourses available to them, asserting these, and understanding how credit works and the consequences of too much debt.
Proposed activities and tools
Talk to your teen about the ads around them, whether on the radio, TV, online or elsewhere in their environment.
To make them aware of advertising’s effects and develop their critical thinking, ask your teen what they think of the messages conveyed by these ads, who they are targeting, and what their objectives are.
Here are some discussion points to open up the dialogue:
To exercise your teen’s critical judgment about advertising, ask them to recognize the strategies that advertisers use.
Is your teen looking to become more independent by buying their first used car?
Here's a video to watch before they start shopping around.
To help them make the right decisions, the Office de la protection du consommateur is also sharing a few tips on how to buy a used car from a merchant.
Is your teenager ready to take driving lessons? The article on Driving Lessons: Contract, Payment, Cancellation, etc. should interest them.
Signing a cell phone contract shouldn’t be taken lightly: it’s a commitment.
Is your teen itching to buy a cell phone? The first thing they should do is watch this video!
What's the second thing they should do? Figure out which cell phone service contract is the right one. To get to the bottom of this question, your teen needs to:
For more tips, visit the Cellular Phone Services section.
It’s so easy to get roped in by the flood of offers on the Web! To help your teen stay clear of the pitfall of overconsuming online, share these tips with them:
To make sure your teen knows their rights as a consumer, suggest they visit the Online Purchases section.
Your teen needs to develop the reflex of learning about their consumer rights. Do they know their rights?
For example, does your teen know what to do if the price at the checkout is higher than the price posted in the store? They may have one or more recourses, like having the store apply the Price Accuracy Policy.
How does it work? An infographic will show them how. Then your teen can test their knowledge with a quiz.
The goods your teen buys are covered, free of charge, by legal warranties.
Suggest they watch the video below to discover the different types of warranties that may apply to the goods they purchase, then try the Warranty Quiz.
Credit is all well and good, but teens need to understand that it’s not their money and that if they borrow ... they’ll have to repay it all!
To help your teen realize the risks of credit, sit down together to watch this video on taking out your first credit card.
One danger with a credit card is not paying off the balance in full every month.
By paying only part of the balance or making only the minimum payment, you can wind up taking a long, long time to repay your debt...
Do the math yourself with this interactive tool: Minimum Payment: Maximum Intere$t.
A credit report consolidates your credit history. It contains factual information about your credit cards and loans, as well as personal information available in the public domain.
A credit score is a three-digit number calculated using a mathematical formula based on the information in your credit report.
To see what a credit report looks like, understand it and decipher the credit score, check out this guide from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
Then invite your teen to test their knowledge about credit scores.
One reflex of an informed consumer is to use a purchasing process. Your teen should make it a habit to use one so they can make informed choices.
The next time your teen makes a major purchase, support them as they go through the steps of a reasoned process (287.8 KB).