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Sanlam Using Gamification to Teach Kids to Save Through “First-of-its-Kind” App

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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Sanlam has launched an interactive app that introduces children to the wonder of saving.

The company said that its new free, first-of-its-kind app helps children start a journey of financial confidence by teaching them “savvy saving habits.”

In the app, young users become dragon masters embarking on a fantastical quest. The more they save, the more their mystical dragon grows. Gamification is used to incentivise goal setting and bring some excitement to the topic of saving.

Savings Jar App, showing off the interactive “Baby Dragon”.

The app – which is available on iOS and Android – is an informational tool for parents seeking to introduce their children to smart money behaviours.

It forms part of Sanlam’s longstanding purpose to target financial literacy to empower more people to live with confidence, go after their goals and believe they can create a better life for themselves.

Mariska Oosthuizen, Head of Brand at Sanlam, says, “We know that gamification is a powerful means to educate young people. The Sanlam Savings Jar breaks down basic financial concepts, like planning, goal setting, needs versus wants, and appreciation of money and how to earn it. It’s critical to teach children these concepts early on as habits are formed from as young as seven.”

“We hope this app gets the whole family talking about money – a topic that’s often taboo.”

Oosthuizen says that the Sanlam Savings Jar teaches children savings habits through virtual ‘treasure’, rather than actually asking people to save in the current, difficult COVID-19 climate.”

Gamification Means Better Learning Outcomes

Multiple studies point to improved engagement and learning through gamification.

The Smithsonian Science Education Centre says gamification stimulates more activity in the regions of the brain that facilitate cognitive development. So-called ‘brain games’ improve the brain’s processing and information retention.

Crucially, children learn more because they want to stick with the learning task for longer.

Marilize Botha, an occupational therapist, says that gamification works well because the focus shifts from expectations to fun.

“That’s when we learn and retain information much more easily. For example, when children play games like hopscotch, they’re learning maths without being aware of it.”

She says apps work when they have a competitive component, “For example, a child has to apply the learned skill to reach their goal. That’s when the repetition aspect lays down and consolidates the skill.”

In Sanlam Savings Jar, saving is the skill reinforced through rewarded repetition.

This instant feedback loop is another key part of gamification’s success. With the Sanlam Savings Jar, the closer children get to their goal, the more powerful their dragon grows. The behaviour merits a (virtual) tangible reward.

Botha adds that play is pivotal to learning, “It’s the main functional task every child must engage in to acquire new skills. In the ‘space’ of playing, children experience the freedom to try – and sometimes also fail – to gain a new skill in a stress-free environment.”

Apps can provide powerful platforms for play. Botha advises that when choosing an educational app, parents ask whether it will help a child to learn a contributing life skill and if the child will experience gratification through the learning process.

The Sanlam Savings Jar was designed to make learning as fun and effortless as possible, the company says.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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