Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions Says the Quest for Coolness Drives Teen Debts; Five Golden Rules to Help Keep Teenagers Out of Debt WASHINGTON, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Abercrombie is cool, Ashton Kutcher is hot, the X-Box is wicked -- in a good way -- and breakfast is for nerds. Welcome to the arcane, insular and frequently baffling world of teenagers. "Peer pressure to buy the latest fashion or the coolest gadget pushes teens to use the convenience of credit cards and run up debt," said Darrell McKigney, executive director of Consumers For Responsible Credit Solutions. "The growth of debt among teenagers and college students is a troubling phenomenon." According to a study released by the Consumer Federation of America, Dr. Robert Manning, author of Credit Card Nation, observed that student debt results from peer pressure, financial naivete, and aggressive marketing by credit card companies. "The unrestricted marketing of credit cards on college campuses alongside peer pressure ... now poses a greater threat than alcohol or sexually transmitted diseases," said Manning. In fact, a 1999 Youth and Money Survey found that 79 percent of students have never taken a class on personal finance. The marketing of credit cards has shifted rapidly over the last five years from young professionals to college freshmen and high school seniors. In fact, 80% of teens between the ages of 18 and 20 have credit cards and according to a George Mason University survey, three out of five of these students maxed them out during their freshman year. "The pressure is high ... from peers, credit card companies and makers of products targeted to the youth market ... but education is the key," says McKigney. "Parents and students alike must understand how to use credit responsibly. It is truly unfortunate for a teenager or a student when today's fleeting fashion becomes tomorrow's crushing debt." Consumers For Responsible Credit Solutions has launched a website, http://www.responsiblecredit.com, to assist parents and teenagers in developing sound financial skills. "Education is the best defense against aggressive marketing to teenagers," said McKigney. "CRCS' own program, 'Kids and Credit,' is a free, educational program that provides the resources and tools for parents to prepare their teens for using credit responsibly." Consumers For Responsible Credit sets forth Five Golden Rules for parents whose teenagers are succumbing to marketing and peer pressure that threatens to get them in over their heads in debt. 1. Don't give your teenager a credit card unless they have a proven record 2. Give your child enough pocket money to encourage saving, even if it's only $1. 3. Don't be too tough if they overspend a few times. It's human nature. But if a child repeatedly lives beyond their means, it's your responsibility to offer help. 4. Set rules about what you don't want them to buy -- for example, junk food. 5. Set a good example for them. They will follow your lead, so it's your responsibility to be a good role model. Teenagers may know terms such as checkbook and credit card, but that doesn't mean they understand day-to-day money matters fully. You don't have to involve them completely in running the 'family business,' but teenagers should have a sound idea of what household finances are about. This is good training for the sort of decision-making they will inevitably face as adults. Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions (CRCS) is a nationwide group of consumers whose mission is to help Americans successfully manage debt and avoid bankruptcy.