Tweens and beyond can insert the supplied ATM card into the silver machine, punch in their PIN, be greeted by name on the electronic display, peer into the pretend security camera and wait for that seminal capitalistic moment -- when crisp bills miraculously appear, ripe for the plucking.
The marketers have a term for it: KGOY -- "Kids growing older younger." The ATM is a real KGOY toy, says Juliet B. Schor, a Boston University professor who wrote "Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture."
The ATM, marked for ages 8 and up, "is symbolically significant and highly valued -- the money machine! It must have a very strong aspirational pull. Using an ATM is one of the things that grown-ups do in full view of kids that the kids have very little access to," says Schor. "It's one part of consuming that kids aren't in on. They are full-fledged consumers, buying clothing, picking groceries, selecting toys. They go to the spa and get their nails done. But they don't have entry into the real ATM."
Well, it's probably less harmful than selling them candy cigarettes. Other than that, opinion seems divided on whether it indoctrinates kids into becoming materialistic consumer zombies or teaches sensible money management habits.
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