The rise of social media investing thanks to the frenzy surrounding GameStop and r/WallStreetBets has sparked an incredible amount of interest among the younger population.
According to a recent Wells Fargo survey focused on teens and investing, over 45% of those surveyed said they were more interested in investing this year because of the GameStop social media situation. Teen boys were also more interested due to the GameStop controversy than teen girls, with the ratio of 54% to 40% respectively.
While this is certainly a positive side effect of an otherwise risky mass hysteria, there are important lessons from the rise of social media investing that cannot be overlooked. One of the factors that easily hastened the trading frenzy in January was the ease with which trading apps allowed instantaneous access and flippant behavior. Colorful and user-friendly trading apps like Robinhood and Acorns can be set up in seconds, and keep the attention of teens and young adults with little patience long enough to get them hooked. From there, moving money is as easy as swiping on Tinder, and can easily create an amenable environment for reckless investing. Trading has been halted several times on these apps as things got out of hand and the companies had to put a ceiling on negligent trading activity.
However, once teens fully understand the risks associated with investing, there are a number of apps that can benefit first-time investors. Technically, minors cannot use investing platforms at all. One must be a legal adult in order to have a brokerage account in their name, meaning at least 18 years of age — but there are still ways teens can become involved.
Acorns Early is an application built into the already pre-existing Acorns Family, which allows parents to add custodial brokerage accounts for their children with early automatic amounts per day, week or month. They also provide financial literacy content with families powered by Acorns and CNBC to help parents teach their children basic financial principles at an early age. The literature includes topics such as how to get started investing in your 20s, Investing 101 and how young people can get started in investing.
Under the age of 24, Acorns is free. A “.edu” email address will also nab you a free account.
Under the Greenlight Max feature, users can set up a custodial account for their children that automatically reverts to their children’s name when they turn 18, or 21 depending on the state you live in. During the custodial period, parents work together with children to build their investment portfolios, as children can download the app on their phones and monitor the activity, as well. The app is designed to be user-friendly and attractive for younger investors to use. The company even offers debit cards that can be linked to these accounts. Parents can set specific stores that the debit cards can be used at, and children have the ability to see their card activity on their phones.
Webull is an app that doesn’t offer custodial accounts, but does include an incredibly useful service to newbie and young traders who want to learn investing basics without exposing their own money to risk. Paper trading, or hypothetical trading, is essentially creating a “fake” portfolio where you can set up an entire portfolio and see its movements without having to put any real money into the account.
Another useful platform for hypothetical trading is Yahoo Finance. Many financial professionals use Yahoo Finance for their real trading, but the platform also allows you to set up a hypothetical trading portfolio with all the investments you would want to invest in. You can follow the movements in real time and see which of your picks are performing well — or not hitting the mark. You can do this for as long as you’d like to see what kind of investments perform better over time and which are more volatile as the market moves up or down. Then, when you feel comfortable, you can start adding real money to your portfolio slowly.
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Last updated: July 1, 2021