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Navigating the World of Cryptocurrency: A Guide for Parents and Teens

Ali Katz


In an era where digital innovation shapes every aspect of our lives, it's no surprise that our teenagers are drawn to the allure of cryptocurrency. This digital form of money represents a shift away from traditional financial systems. If you are the parent of teens, understanding cryptocurrency is crucial so you can provide them with the guidance they need to navigate this new world safely and wisely. Luckily, I’m here to help you learn what you need to know. Let’s dive in. 


What is Cryptocurrency, Exactly?

Cryptocurrency, which folks also call “crypto” is, in essence, virtual money that can be used to buy goods and services. It can also be traded for profit, much like stocks. However, unlike the dollars in your wallet, crypto exists only in the digital world. The crypto universe is vast, with thousands of digital currencies out there.

Crypto is based on blockchain technology, which ensures transactions are secure, transparent, and decentralized, so they're not controlled by any government or financial institution (there are pros and cons to this that we’ll describe below). Imagine blockchain as a digital Lego tower where each block represents a piece of information, and once a block is added to the tower, it can't be removed or altered, making it a super secure way to keep track of cryptocurrency transactions - kind of like a high-tech, unbreakable diary

A critical component of understanding cryptocurrency is the concept of a crypto wallet. Unlike a physical wallet, a crypto wallet doesn't store currency; instead, it holds secure digital keys that allow access to cryptocurrencies. With me so far?


What Parents of Teens Need to Know

To the younger, digital-native generation, cryptocurrency is an exciting and innovative concept. They’re not afraid of technology and investing online. They’re aware of the potentially significant returns on investments, stories of cryptocurrency millionaires, and the prospect of being part of a cutting-edge financial movement. This is why crypto is very attractive to teens.

Parents should know that while there are no laws specifically prohibiting teens from owning or trading cryptocurrency, most platforms and exchanges require users to be 18 years old. For eager and younger investors, custodial accounts present a solution. These accounts allow parents to oversee their teen's investments, providing a controlled environment where teens can learn about digital currencies. 

These accounts not only allow parents to monitor their teen's investment activities but also offer a hands-on educational experience in managing and understanding digital currencies. It's a balanced approach that combines the practical aspects of investing with the security of parental oversight.


Be Aware of the Risks 

While learning how to invest in crypto can be a great learning activity for you and your teen, be aware of the risks involved. For one, the crypto market is highly volatile. Prices can surge or plummet within a short period, making investments speculative and risky. It's crucial to have open discussions with your teen about the importance of not investing more than they can afford to lose, and about the reality of the speculative nature of digital currency. Teach your teen the importance of research, diversification, and long-term thinking and you’ll help instill responsible investment habits that will last a lifetime (and make you proud!).


Alternatives and Best Practices

For families that find direct investment in cryptocurrency too daunting, there are alternative ways to engage with the digital economy. Encouraging your teen to learn about blockchain technology or exploring investments in crypto-related stocks and ETFs can provide a safer introduction to the concepts without the direct risks associated with cryptocurrency trading. 

However, if you’re ready to make a go at it, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Foster a Culture of Learning. The rapid evolution of digital currencies makes continuous learning essential. Encourage your teen (and take the opportunity yourself) to stay informed about the latest developments by reading reputable news sources, listening to podcasts, and even speaking with a financial advisor. 

Establish Guidelines. Before your teen makes any financial investment, it's important to establish clear guidelines. Discuss together how much time and money is reasonable to invest, the importance of privacy and security in digital transactions, and the expectations for responsible behavior. Setting these ground rules early on can lay a strong foundation for healthy financial habits.

Embrace the Future. Regardless of whether your teen decides to invest in cryptocurrency, understanding this new facet of the financial world is invaluable for you. The rise of digital currencies offers a unique opportunity for parents and teens to learn together about the future of money, technology, and personal finance. It's a chance to explore new concepts, discuss values and responsibilities, and prepare for a future where digital currencies may play a significant role.


Prepare Yourself and Your Teen With Our Guidance

Whatever the future holds, as a Personal Family Lawyer firm, we believe it’s important to educate your children about finances so you leave a legacy of fiscal responsibility when you’re gone. That’s why we help ensure that when you’re no longer here, your assets - including cryptocurrency - are passed on the way you want, easily, and without your family ending up in court and conflict. We do that by approaching estate planning as a relationship - a lifetime relationship with you as your and your family’s trusted advisor so you have someone to turn to in times of change and uncertainty, and in times of joy and excitement.