How to teach scarcity to your kids with Mario Run

Last updated: January 31, 2017

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Scarcity (also called paucity) is the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human wants in a world of limited resources. It states that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfill all human wants and needs.” Wikipedia

I can’t help but to think that these parents who give the feeling to their children that everything is unlimited are doing it wrong. They think they give them a gift. They actually make them future consumerist, and never-satisfied grown-ups.

Along my Financial Independence journey, I run an educational quest to grow MP’s children with financial awareness.

On the scarcity chapter, we started with things like “Electricity isn’t coming magically on a button press, you have to preserve it because it is scarce.”, “You can’t get the entire catalog for Christmas!”, or “Please finish your plate and be grateful for it, there are kids that don’t have food at every meal.”

Now that they get older, I wanted that they experience scarcity by themselves — in a fun way though, in the hope that it resonates on the long run in their life on matters such as budgeting, time management, or ecology.

Entering Mario Run!

We don’t have any games console at home but my older kid got introduced to this Italian funny plumber at school playground.
When I told him I downloaded it on my iPhone, I saw lights into his eyes like on a Christmas day!

I connected the dots.

First (failed) attempt at teaching scarcity

I explained my kid that he could play, but that there would be rules.
The goal was that he learns about scarcity by himself, and give him the opportunity to feel what it is to have the power to control your own life, decisions, and acts.

I sat down next to him with a white sheet and drew a weekly planner.

On each day I put two credits totalling fourteen credits per week. One credit is one game.

He could use the fourteen in one day if he wanted, but then would have to wait for one week to play again.

I also introduced pitfalls into this gamification: you are capricious during the day, you lose one credit. You complain that you could only play a limited amount of time instead of being grateful, you lose one credit.
How cool is it to be a parent!

14 credits a week

14 credits a week

The results were mitigated with this first scarcity teaching attempt.

Long story short: my kid learnt about limited resources. That was the positive side.
On the negative side, he became too addicted to his two credits per day. So much that every day started by “When can I use your iPhone daddy?”

#Fail. Don’t wanna make him a junky.

Our ongoing second attempt at teaching scarcity

We changed the rule to make it a better experience for both him and us.
He now will get 2 credits of 15 min per week.

2 credits (of 15 min) a week

2 credits (of 15 min) a week

It’s like we switched from a daily salary to a biweekly one. We already see that he doesn’t nag us that often as before.
We hope that he gets less addicted on the long run while remaining autonomous in his credits budgeting. He will also learn to manage his time instead of a number of games, which is a good skill to have.

Inspect and adapt as they say!
I will keep you posted on the results of the experiment.

Do you have tips and tricks to teach scarcity to your children? I would be thankful if you could share them with us.

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