Adults routinely use the Internet to buy everything from rice to used cars, but kids are discovering how easy it is to purchase goods online, too. As a parent or caregiver, you’ll need to decide whether to let your children visit the millions of cyber aisles available, looking at both the pros and cons online shopping holds for your kids.
Kids Shopping Online Is Bad for Kids Because…
- Security is a huge concern. Today’s cybercriminals are super sophisticated. They know how to get kids to enter a credit card or bank account numbers into phony forms, and they have technologies that can pull other sensitive information from the computer or mobile device your children use. In fact, cybercriminals are specifically targeting kids for identity theft because they know that most parents won’t realize there’s a problem until months or even years later. Perhaps most disconcerting, however, is the fact that some cybercriminals use the data your child enters to physically seek your child out, often for illicit or sexually-oriented activities. You’ll need to use tactics like strong passwords, avoiding unsecured networks and website filtering to keep your kids and entire family safe.
- Quality control and fit can be difficult to guarantee. For every high-quality item your kids could purchase via the Internet, there are dozens—perhaps even hundreds—that leave quite a bit to be desired, falling short in terms of durability or safety. Counterfeiters also work hard to market their products, tricking kids and adults alike into believing their items are the real deal. Additionally, clothes, shoes and accessories, which are hot ticket items with the majority of teenage shoppers, can vary quite a bit, even when they are the exact same size from the same manufacturer or brand. Without being able to physically inspect the item or try it on, your children stand a greater risk of needing a return or being disappointed.
- Fees might add up fast. Shopping online can save your children money in that they might be able to find what they want or need at a rate cheaper than that offered by their local brick and mortar stores. Web sites often charge fees to buyers, however, the most common of which is probably shipping. These add-ons can make it more expensive to buy online in the end, so your kids will have to be careful about looking only at the “face value” price as they shop.
But Letting Kids Shop Online Can Work Because…
- Your children will have more variety available. When your children visit a brick-and-mortar store, they’re limited to the selection the store has on the shelves. If they shop online, though, they can expand to items their particular branch might not have in stock. Better still, they can go to a different retailer altogether—with thousands to choose from, the odds are dramatically improved that they’ll find a product that’s closer to their specifications at a price that works.
- Your child can be more independent. Until your children are old enough to drive, it can be tough for them to get to the store to shop. They might have to rely on you, siblings or older friends to get where they need to go, asking for rides or needing to borrow a vehicle. Online shopping lets your children make buys without this inconvenience. They can have their items delivered right to their doorstep, saving everyone time.
- Online shopping can provide more information. Kids can comparison shop with brick-and-mortar stores by checking sale papers or going from store to store. This does not give your kids access to reviews, however. If your children shop online, they can see what other customers think about the product or have experienced with the company. With this data, your children are in a better position to make an educated decision about whether the purchase is worth it. The caveat here is that some less ethical sellers purposely post “padded” reviews that portray the product in an untruthful, overly positive light. You’ll need to show your kids how to tell honest reviews from planted ones.
Online shopping has some serious risks for your kids that require you to be on your toes, communicating openly. On the other hand, it can open your children to more choices and greater independence, letting them be serious about comparison shopping. Give them the opportunity to buy via the Internet, but not without your guidance.