Playing the Market, These Kids Are Losing a Lot of Play Money

Jennifer Levitz:

Michael Ashworth slumped by his computer, weary from another rough day in the stock market. All his favorite picks — Domino’s Pizza Inc., Hershey Co. and Gap Inc. — were down.
I’ll be honest with you,” he confided. “Before all this, I asked my mom to get me stocks for Christmas,” but then “I told her not to do it. I asked for a parakeet instead.”
Michael, a 13-year-old at Wilmington’s Skyline Middle School, is one of 700,000 players in the “Stock Market Game,” a scholastic contest in which students from grades four through 12 get a hypothetical $100,000 to invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds.
The game is run by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Wall Street’s biggest trade group. Schools pay about $16 a team for a curriculum that includes access to a computer system that executes the simulated trades and ranks teams by states and age group. At the end, the teams in each state with the best returns take home bull-and-bear trophies, gift certificates or other prizes.