During the original dot com boom, there was an interesting company called "DoughNet" which was supposed to to be a financial site for kids -- trying to teach kids how to be responsible with money at a young age. Of course, that was the marketing spin. Others believed that it was just a sneaky way to give kids access to some of their parents' cash so they could spend it online (parents usually had to set up an account with a certain amount of money that the kids could "manage"). While it got a lot of hype, it quickly went nowhere. However, now that so many people have forgotten what happened last time around, it's no surprise that we're seeing similar ideas -- with new twists. Last month we wrote about Toyota's strategy to get kids hooked at a young age, by sponsoring many different aspects of a virtual world for kids. Of course, if you're going to get kids hooked on wanting a certain car, you might as well get them primed and ready to do so with debt. Jeremy Wagstaff notes that Toyota has now added a new feature to this children's virtual world: the ability to buy one of these virtual cars on credit. It even involves a fake credit report using "WhyCO" numbers designed to mimic FICO numbers. Of course, to get a good WhyCO number you have to be very involved in the Whyville virtual community. It's being pitched (of course) as a way for kids to better understand things like car loans -- but some might wonder why 8-year-olds really need to understand things like credit scores, debt and interest payments. Next thing you know, we'll find out that these kids are being taught the importance of purchasing the extra warranty and the virtual undercoating as well...
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