Recently, my son’s handphone went dead. He requested for a replacement which I will gladly do. I then asked him what he wanted. His reply is an iPhone 5!
I then saw an opportunity to coach him on wants vs. needs. I asked him what does he value most in his old phone. He said the frequent texting, the once every so often call and the indispensable alarm. I then said, “If that is the case, why do you want an iPhone 5 if that is all you need?”
He then pondered and said, “Because I saw Kak Tasha had one.”
It got me to wonder how many of our teenagers actually are conditioned to see want as a need automatically when choosing what to buy due to ‘indirect peer pressure’ or a sense of wanting to conform. This decision I see as the basic of critical thinking.
I now have the task to find an analogy that he can appreciate on how we tend to overbuy technology which happens due our inability to distinguish between needs and wants; collapsing the two as one.
I had an idea. I said, “Buying the iPhone5 is equivalent to buying a book when you only need to read 1 chapter of the book. Would you buy a whole book or would you just read a chapter?”
He thought for a bit and said, “What if I need to read the other chapters later?”.
This is another myth that is strongly encouraged in the overbuy technology scheme where the fear of needing something sometime in the unforetold future. This is a very strong smoke screen because it masked a want as a need. In this myth, what you actually want is a sense a security of a strong need. It is still a want, see?
To this my answer is, “When you need it, only then we will buy it. For now, you only need a phone that serves your needs.”
I sweeten the argument with another perspective for him to think about. I said, “With the price of the iPhone5, I could get you a phone and a laptop. Now, which one do you see a pressing need, an iPhone or and laptop?”. To this he says, a laptop for all the obvious reasons.
And with that, it is settled… a laptop and not an iPhone.