Is Online Shopping Safe for Kids?

Is online shopping safe for kids?

Online shopping can be safe for kids with the proper knowledge and parental involvement. While there are some risks, you can take steps to protect your kids from them and minimize dangers before they appear. It’s essential to teach your kids how to shop safely, a skill that they will need in their adult years.

Here’s how to determine whether your child should be allowed to shop online and what safety measures you can implement to reduce the risks.

Should You Let Your Kids Shop Online?

As your kids get older, they’ll likely ask if they can order things online. While you don’t want to hand over your credit card with no limitations, there are benefits in allowing your kids to have some autonomy. It can teach them financial responsibility and practical skills from a young age.

As a parent, you can decide when your child is old enough to do some of their own shopping, but children under 15 should probably not be spending unsupervised. Teenagers may have various reasons to shop online, like purchasing items like books, school supplies, gifts for family and friends or clothes for special events, like school dances. If they have a job, they may also have items they’re saving up to buy.

While you should always verify that they are shopping from legitimate sources and not overspending, you can allow your older children to make the purchases themselves.

How to Keep Your Kids Safe When Online Shopping

While there are advantages, you shouldn’t let your kids have free rein to shop online as they please. Teach your kids to protect themselves from potential risks as they shop.

Teach Them to Protect Their Personal Information

All online shops require personal information like names, phone numbers and email addresses for payment and shipping. If you have kids younger than 13, have them come to you when they are ready to make a purchase. You can then double-check the site’s credibility and enter your details.

Warn Them About Scams

Teach your kids the dangers of buying toys or gear with steep discounts. If it looks too good to be true, it often is. A cheap price tag could mean that the toy does not meet U.S. safety standards and you want to protect your children from buying counterfeits or recalls.

Here are some other ways to identify scams and check for legitimate purchases:

  • Compare the product and price with other stores.
  • Read reviews. Use a fake review detector to ensure you have the correct information. In 2022, 50% of consumers reported seeing fake reviews, which shows the importance of double-checking before making a purchase.
  • Check for the lock icon or the ‘S’ in HTTPS in the URL. If the site has these, it means it’s secure.
  • If there’s bad grammar, an incomplete site or an odd URL, it could be a scam page.
  • Delete or show Mom and Dad emails with phrases like “click here” or “download now.”
  • If a site asks for you to subscribe or add something to your cart to make the purchase, it’s a scam.

Create an Authorized Shopping Site List

With hundreds of websites and online stores out there, it’s a good idea to have a list of stores that you use as a family. This system can prevent your kids from falling into scams or giving their information to the wrong people.

Encourage your kids to be open about any new online stores they find. Maybe there’s a site that sells their favorite squishmallows and they can’t find them anywhere else. Scan through the site together and tick the scam ID checklist together to help them practice.

Use Ad Blockers

Usually, online stores won’t ask for a person’s age when entering credit card info. That means your child can buy anything online if they have your card. It also means they’ll be exposed to ads for people of all ages. Have them make a purchase with you present can be a learning experience for them, as long as you teach them how to use a credit card safety online.

Download ad blockers and web blockers that filter content that has alcohol or drug messaging, sexual content, inappropriate movies and violent messages. With a web blocker, you can be at peace knowing you reduced the chance of your kid encountering dangerous content.

Prevent Compulsive Buying and Accidental Purchases

Anyone who shops online knows that it’s easy to overfill your cart. With tempting sales and numerous options, “just one more” can quickly turn into a $1,000 cart. While you might have built immunity with experience, your kids are just starting out and they need guidance.

The best way to prevent this is to shop with your child. Show them how to look for items and review their cart. Double-check if the number of items is correct. Make the process slow. This will teach them to check twice before they buy and prevent double or accidental purchases.

You can also set some ground rules, like limiting browsing to 15-30 minutes a day and asking your permission before purchasing. This is an excellent time to improve their financial and budgeting skills. If you give them a monthly allowance, have them review and calculate purchases against their balance.

Have Rules for Shopping Locations

Agree with your kids that all online shopping happens at home. This strategy prevents them from entering personal information while connected to public Wi-Fi in public places like the airport or at school.

Get Kid-Safe Debit Cards

Protect your account from unexpected purchases by making a capped PayPal account for your kids or getting them kid-safe debit cards like Greenlight, GoHenry and Axos. These banking companies also provide resources and apps to build good money habits. Considering kids can form money habits from age 5, it will benefit your kids to learn how to manage their own cards.

Build Safe Online Shopping Habits With Your Kids

As with anything online, there are some risks that come with online shopping. It’s a good idea to provide supervision and safe space to teach your kids how to shop safely.

Cora Gold - Editor in ChiefAuthor bio:  Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. She strives to live a happy and healthy life with her family by her side.
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