PARENT ZONE

Help your child become
        an informed consumer

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.

My child is in PRIMARY school

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

Good questions to ask your child

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:

  • What's a need?
  • What's a want?
  • What’s the difference between an essential good and a non-essential one?
  • Where do mom and dad get the money they use to pay for food, clothing or activities?
  • Why is a budget useful?
  • Where do we see advertising?
  • How do you think advertising influences you?
  • How can you use the information on product packaging to make a purchasing decision?
  • What are the different purposes of advertising?

To find answers to these questions and others, explore our activities with your child.

Simple activities to do with your child

Kids in Grade 1 or 2

Kids in Grade 3 or 4

  • A Need or a Want? (298.8 KB)
    To differentiate needs from wants in order to make informed choices.
  • Ad Hunting (1.1 MB)
    To realize how prevalent advertising is and that it comes in various forms.

Kids in Grade 5 or 6

My child is in HIGH SCHOOL

As a teenager, your child faces new consumer challenges because so many more opportunities are opening up to them.

This is an deal 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

Let's talk
advertising

Got your eye on
a car?

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:

  • Do you feel like others form an opinion of you based on your appearance?
  • Have you ever bought a product hoping to feel better about yourself? Which one?
  • Have you ever bought something because it was fashionable?
  • Would you like to look like some of the people they show in ads?
  • What kind of advertising has the biggest impact on you? Why?
  • When you see someone you admire (top athlete, TV star, influencer, etc.) extolling the virtues of a product, are you tempted to buy it?
  • How can advertisements affect our self-image?

Activity about advertising

To exercise your teen’s critical judgment about advertising, ask them to recognize the strategies that advertisers use (232.3 KB).

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.

Driving lessons

Is your teenager ready to take driving lessons? The article on Driving Lessons: Contract, Payment, Cancellation, etc. (237.0 KB) should interest them.

A cell phone
contract:

serious business!

The pitfall of
overconsuming
online

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!

 

 

Before your teen commits

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:

  1. Determine their budget, that is, assess their ability to pay their cell phone bill every month.
  2. Assess their needs.
  3. Shop around for their provider and compare each provider’s offers.
  4. Compare the provider offers with their own list of needs so that they choose the best option.
  5. Choose the type of contract that best suits them: a fixed-term contract or an open-ended contract
  6. Read the provider’s contract to make sure it reflects what they were told and contains all the necessary information.
  7. Agree to the contract.

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:

  • Unsubscribe from the regular newsletters from your favourite stores. That way, you’ll avoid seeing the latest news or being tempted by sales… and unnecessary purchases.
  • Save your favourites for later. Bookmark the page, add an item to your cart or wish list. You can come back to it a few days later. In the meantime, you just may forget what you wanted so badly!
  • Don’t save credit card information in your account or browser. It’s a lot easier to buy when you just have to click a button! Not to mention the security issues...

To make sure your teen knows their rights as a consumer, suggest they visit the Online Purchases section.

Knowing your
consumer rights

Let's talk
credit

Your teen needs to develop the reflex of learning about their consumer rights. Do they know their rights?

Price error

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 (678.1 KB) will show them how. Then your teen can test their knowledge with a quiz.

Warranties

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!

Taking out a credit card

To help your teen realize the risks of credit, sit down together to watch this video on taking out your first credit card.

 

 

Paying the balance

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.

Understanding your credit report

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 (3.7 MB).

Then invite your teen to test their knowledge about credit scores (252.9 KB).

Making
informed choices

Other topics that
may interest your teen

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 (241.9 KB).