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Monday's papers: Pokémon Go woes, employers pitch plan for jobless parents but when should tots go to daycare?

Monday's paper review is all about the youngsters: a mother issues a warning to other parents about the potential financial fallout as kids blindly take on the challenge of the blockbuster game Pokémon Go; the private sector business lobby EK rolls out a proposal for getting unemployed parents out of the home and into the workplace and a Kela survey finds that most Finnish residents are comfortable placing under-three year-olds in daycare.

Pokemon go -peli käynnissä
Image: Valtteri Välimäki / Yle

Tabloid daily Iltalehti's print edition frontpages an exclusive story about a parent coming to terms with the dark side of the wildly popular augmented reality game, Pokémon Go! The mother in question received a rude awakening when she discovered that her nine year-old son had racked up a 670-euro credit card bill for purchases in the virtual fantasy creature hunt.

The mother, a resident of Lempääla near Tampere, was first alerted to her son’s spending habits when her credit card company called asking about purchases from an unfamiliar firm, Niang. When she denied knowledge of the firm or the purchases, the card was closed.

The youngster eventually owned up to paying to speed up his Pokémon collection in an effort to level the stakes with his twin brother. However his mother was stunned when confronted with the final bill tallying hundreds of euros. The Lempäälä mother explained that her credit card data had been linked to the boy’s Google Play app store account, making it relatively easy for him to use the card to pay for additional purchases. She said that she wanted to send out a warning to other parents to be vigilant of their children’s actions with addictive smartphone games.

EK: Reduce daycare fees, cut housing benefit to get jobless parents up and out

Meanwhile the other main tabloid Ilta-Sanomat runs a spread on a proposal by the main private sector business lobby EK to reduce families’ daycare fees while at the same time slashing housing benefits in an effort to activate unemployed parents to find work.

The employers’ lobby reasons that cutting housing benefits would free up funds to compensate for lower daycare fees paid by parents for public care. The organisation has called for the largest daycare payments to be reduced from 290 euros per month to 250 euros. It also wants to increase the sibling discount from 10 percent to 50 percent.

"The biggest problem with daycare fees is that they are income-based. A central element [of the plan] is to reduce the fee hikes that accompany any rise in income," explained EKJ director Ilkka Oksala.

The lobbyists have called for the government to treat work income and unemployment benefits income separately when calculating housing benefits. It also wants to reduce the benefit from its current level of 80 percent of approved costs. Additionally, employers want to restore a personal deductible to the system of income subsidies. Earlier this year the government walked back a highly unpopular proposal to increase daycare fees that would have seen the highest payments rise to a maximum of 354 euros per month.

Well-educated mothers more inclined to get back to work

Largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat leads its Monday coverage with the results of a survey showing that the vast majority of Finnish residents - some 70 percent - believe that infants can go to day care under the age of three. In spite of the favourable attitude to placing youngsters in daycare, Finland has fewer of its kids in care outside the home than other Nordic countries - an average of 63 percent of 1 - 6 year-olds are cared for at home.

The study was commissioned by the Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela and conducted by pollster Taloustutkimus, who interviewed 3,600 respondents between the ages of 15 and 79. It found that while most people in Finland believe that two is a suitable age to spend time outside of the home in daycare, a majority of younger respondents also felt that children under the age of one could also be placed in daycare.

However older respondents over the age of 60 took a dim view of caring for children this young outside the home. Men were also more prepared than women to place younger infants in daycare.

Researchers also found that the decision to place kids in care was heavily influenced by whether or not mothers had a job. It concluded that well-educated mothers return to work more readily than others and that lower income earners tended to stay at home with their children longer.

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