Chennai: When her son turned nine this year, Preethi Rao felt it was time she had a talk with him about the bulls and bears, and the big bad world of investing.
Rao decided to use the just launched board game Big Bull Junior to introduce her son to the stock market. “It’s important to educate children on finances and investments. It’s math in practice, where you learn to use the numbers to grow your money,” says Rao, associate director at LEAD at Krea University. “Once he begins to understand trading, we will help him get into real-time stocks,” says the Chennai-based woman.
While Rao has taken the gaming route, in New Delhi, Utsav Goyal learned his lessons by diving headfirst into the stock market. After studying how to trade in Class XI, when he turned 18, Goyal opened a Demat and trading account and bought stocks and shares with his pocket money savings of `7,000. Under the Securities and Exchange Board of India rules, a demat and trading account can be opened only at the age of 18 (until then parents can open and manage accounts for their children).
“My dad then gave me capital and I did a little more serious trading. I made some money, lost some as well, but I’m still in the game,” says the 19-year-old. His biggest lesson, he says, is that patience and perseverance pay off when it comes to stocks. “As a teenager, you tend to be aggressive by nature and rush to buy and sell. But soon enough, you learn to control your emotions if you want to invest. I see it as a life lesson from the stock market.”
The markets too are taking stock of the young. According to a Forbes report, retail brokerage firm Zerodha recorded about 70% of its investors in the 20-30 age group. Another virtual stock broking firm, 5paisa.com, saw investors aged 18-35 climb to a little over 80%.
While parents continue to be the main source of education about finances for their kids, social media too is fuelling teen interest. Goyal, for instance, says many of his friends are showing interest in trading because of social media influencers. A recently released survey from financial services company Wells Fargo & Company reported that about a third of teens between 13 and 17 years said social media was their source of information on investments.
Social media and stock market apps such as Trading 212 that allow under-18s to bet on stocks using virtual wealth in several thousands of pounds are making waves. Trading 212 has stopped onboarding new clients because of unprecedented demand.
Meme stocks — which is basically a stock that has seen an increase in volume more because of social media hype than because of the company’s performance — has made making investments trendy among teenagers. Recently, popular meme stock GameStop saw its prices skyrocketing thanks to an online forum.
HowTheMarketWorks, a free stock market game that allows users to create their own custom stock game, receiving a virtual $100,000 or more to get started, is used by more than 400,000 individuals and in 10,000 college, high school and middle school classrooms.
Since its launch in April, replenishment orders for the board game Big Bull Junior game have already begun coming in. “Parents are clearly looking for ways to build financial literacy in their children. And games are the best way to get started,” says Philip Royappan, DGM Marketing of Funskool.
Chennai-based Santosh Subramanian, the game’s inventor, explains that it serves as a primer on the stock market and allows players to control the value of the different stocks. “One learns to build a portfolio and manipulate the market,” he says.
After dabbling with stock simulators as a young teen, New Delhi-based Divya Roongta began actively investing her pocket money in stocks, SIPs and digital gold when she turned 18. In 2020, when she was in Class XII, she went further than just investing. She and friend Vrinda Chandra started Finsnap to educate teens on personal finances. “We conduct webinars in schools on investments in stocks, equities, mutual funds, SIPs and so on. Most teens think investing in stock is paisa double. But we educate them on the dangers of it as well. One cannot gamble on it,” says Roongta, who has more than 200 teens registered with her.
Former stock market analyst Vishal Khandelwal, founder of investment education initiative Safal Niveshak, says, “Financial education is one of the most important lessons in life, but is not taught in school. All through life, we are taught how to make money, but never how to keep it. That’s a lesson that needs to begin young.”



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