Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Nov 16 2013 22:51:05

How Old Is Too Young to Shop Online?

By: Ina Steiner

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My parents encouraged my siblings and I to work, open a checking account and shop well before the age of 18. That was before ecommerce (and before the days of giving children credit cards), but I don't suppose we were any more - or less - mature than kids today.

But now shopping is just as likely to take place online as in-store, and I wondered recently, how hold is too young to shop online? eBay says you have to be 18 years old, though you can use an adult's account with permission. Amazon says you can use the site if  you are under 18 only with involvement of a parent or guardian.

Sears is adamant you must be 18 years or older to even access the site: "If you are not at least 18 years of age, do not access, use, register or purchase merchandise on the Sears Site. In the event we become aware you are under 18, we will terminate your registration."

I've often heard marketplace sellers grumble about children making purchases and trying to back out of the sale, or about adults who blamed their kids (or even pets, for that matter), for "accidentally" bidding on auctions. But exactly how old is too young?

Microsoft's Director of Online Safety Kim Sanchez recently blogged about the issue of children accessing the Internet, writing, "To give, or not to give your child access to the Internet isn't the question. For many parents, the question is, when?"

Sanchez said a Microsoft survey, How Old is Too Young To Go Online, found that almost all parents - 94 percent - allowed their kids to use at least one online service or device. The survey found that eight years old is the average age at which parents allow independent Internet and device use.

The survey also found that of parents with children under the age of seven:

- Twenty-nine percent allow their children to use mobile phones unsupervised

- Forty percent allow their children to use a computer unsupervised

- Forty-one percent allow their children to use a gaming console unsupervised
 
Unfortunately the survey results didn't mention anything about parents' restrictions on online shopping.

What do you think - as online sellers, with or without children - how old is too young to shop online? Have you had any good or bad experiences with underage buyers?




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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sun Nov 17 01:44:02 2013

I have, luckily, no experience with underage ''shoppers''. Maybe I should say I don't think I have had since who knows about those non paying buyers. However, knowing parents who let their children ''do whatever they please and with no set bedtime'', I consider the parents the problem with unsupervised online shopping. You know the type, the parents who think their spoiled child is ''gifted'' or the parents who just let their children run amok. Somehow it always goes back to the parents not knowing how to parent. I really think it comes down to values, the value of money and a lot to do with peer pressure. Sellers are not going to be able to really do anything about this. It is really up to the parents to have better awareness of what their child is doing online.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Captain Nemo

Sun Nov 17 07:03:57 2013

I always thought the problem was a legal one - a minor cannot enter into a legally binding contract.

Is it just an online issue?

If a 12 year old walks into a shop and buys a $200 baseball card, and later the parents come in and demand the shop take it back, can they say it's because their 12 year old bought it without their permission and the shop owner had no business selling it to a minor?

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Sun Nov 17 20:44:33 2013

Once thought I had sold a Super Nintendo game on auction on ebay for a pretty decent price. Hours later got a message from "Disgruntled parent" stating that the kid had gotten on the computer and done this and they had no intention of going through with the purchase. I would suspect depending upon the category and type of merchandise (e.g. video games, comic books, toys) a lot of sellers online go through this.

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This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Sun Nov 17 21:17:13 2013

Hmm....well I know of some under 18 (who shall remain nameless) who have bought things on certain online retail sites...but only for the most part stuff that was OK with their parents. ;)

As far as I know, a lot of teens lie about their age on Facebook, but I guess there's not a lot of commerce on there...yet. Tho, there is advertising..and in fact I've read FB is losing some of the younger audience, who advertisers so covet.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sun Nov 17 23:20:47 2013

Did you ever see those columns of what is in and what is out? Twitter - in, Facebook - out; Amazon - in, ebay - out; instagram - in, photoshop - out; home phone - out, iphone - in...the lists are endless.

Well there are parental tools to keep children from using and viewing online sites but there again any purchase with buyer's remorse could be blamed on an unauthorized underage buyer. It's is the equivalent of the dog ate my homework and hard to prove. It really goes back to the parent's responsibility to know what is going on with their children and to take accountability.  

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 00:17:31 2013

my only experience with a teen buyer ended very very badly.  She got her jerk-ass papa to cover her stupidity and demand a refund whereas I would not have refunded an adult.  Ass left negative feedback after it was all over too!
Most sites now have disclaimers that all users must agree to before purchase.  One is an age minimum and total responsibility for all purchases.  If toddlers to pre-teens use these sites, it's time for some closer supervision and forced responsibility onto the negligent parents!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Nov 18 07:44:06 2013

If you are not taking care of your own finances (no matter what age) in a responsible manner you are too young to shop online.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 08:58:07 2013

Individual. Each are different as far as maturity, responsibility, etc..
That is the parents job to decide.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Nov 18 09:33:16 2013

As bitbybit mentioned there are way to many 'adorable darlings' that apparently their parents didn't want to squelch their enthusiasm for life that have no restrictions for them. They do whatever they want and parents will either cover for them or blame you for whatever problems occur. Thankfully I haven't run into this on my site as I don't have merchandise that generally  tempts kids, or at least kids that aren't going to pay for the goods.  

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by: GoodK9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 11:05:03 2013

As someone who both sells and buys online, I have to say this:  both of my boys have purchased items online (from eBay, Amazon, and elsewhere).  They are 13 and 11.  However, I always know what site they're on and what it is they're purchasing BEFORE they purchase it.  And yes, they do have my permission to do so (mostly because they have to have my credit card).  I've never had any problems.

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by: Cassie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 13:57:44 2013

18 certain the issue understand legality applies upon the purchase that shopping is not a game.

The internet, mature products sold  have the right to bar the account and shipping address too.

I've seen parents use kids to obtain free stuff and shady businesses instead paying the business entity or owner they requested an employee a minor to walk limited toward liability damages as I was the kid my aunt had me cash & sign over checks to her.......my father nearly killed her for that fiasco  

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 14:34:32 2013

When I was 16, I went into the bank where I had a savings account and got a checking account and a debit card. This was 1997. No one ever questioned me about it. I got it mainly so I could order computer stuff over the phone, since the stuff was not available locally, because my parents didn't have a card, and they didn't know much about that kind of stuff.

A couple years later when I was 19, I found out I was never supposed to have those things without a co-signer, but no one got hurt and I got things I needed. Of course, nowadays, people seem to be quite immature and they even want to bump the credit card age up to 21 (I got my first card at 20, and I waited so long because I just assumed you paid interest on all purchases...not just after the grace period, and a dozen years later, I use credit cards extensively, but only paid maybe $300 interest total in all those years.

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by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 17:01:30 2013

A large percentage of adults who purchase online or maybe more properly stated, on ebay have the intellectual capacity and/or the reading & writing skills of not only a child, but an underdeveloped one so I'm not sure age would be the proper guage.

We begged any and all whose ear  could be gained at ebay for years to please give an I.Q. test or similar during the registration process but then we realized ebay under JD was actively recruiting they wish zero intellectual capacity or similar.

It's an enigma, what isn't is as follows:

AgendaSwallowsAll  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 21:39:47 2013

I have had my kids buy on line---as older teens--with supervision and me "fronting"  them the money via credit card and then pay back with their earned money.  But they knew they would suffer dire consequences should they try this on their own time!

I have had at least one person who I believed when she told me--on the PHONE---that she didn't know her kid had opened an ebay account and then was buying and not paying.  After I did not hear from the buyer---this was bid on and sat for a WEEK---I called the person and got Mom.  I will say--if this woman was acting she deserves an Academy Award.  The kid was 13!!!!    I was able to tell Mom what she had "purchased"  and then mom asked--Well HOW was she going to PAY for this!   I really think she was perplexed on this!  

Of course I canceled this and let Mom deal with Baby Girl.  I don't think I would have wanted to be THAT girl after school that day!  

And--then I had the woman who tried to tell me that some evil ebay demon captured her laptop and FORCED her to BUY and PAY FOR a TODDLER SNOWSUIT---while she allegedly was looking at something COMPLETELY different!

Sad for her---she contacted me AFTER I had mailed the item.  That whole timely shipping thing ebay has drummed into our heads ya know.  

And NO I was NOT going to take it BACK.  

Before any of US hits that Paypal button--do we not make SURE the item is what we WANT?  After all---we DO get several chances to make SURE we want it BEFORE we hit PAY.  And this was back before the "One Touch"  pay option BTW!!!!!

Somehow you can always tell a liar!  

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by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 22:14:47 2013

Typo correction

A large percentage of adults who purchase online or maybe more properly stated, on ebay have the intellectual capacity and/or the reading & writing skills of not only a child, but an underdeveloped one so I'm not sure age would be the proper guage.

We begged any and all whose ear  could be gained at ebay for years to please give an I.Q. test or similar during the registration process but then we realized ebay under JD was actively recruiting they with zero intellectual capacity or similar.

It's an enigma, what isn't is as follows:

AgendaSwallowsAll  

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by: FLIPPER This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 18 23:50:08 2013

Very simple - 18 yrs old. The age at which most if not all 50 states stipulate someone can enter into a legally binding contract(other than an emancipated minor). For the poster asking about an "in-person" purchase , same rules apply in most if not all instances(emancipated minor being a rare exception IMO). Not a lawyer just know the rules firsthand ;)

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by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 19 03:26:40 2013

Sometimes I wonder if even the adult Buyers can read. I have had people think they were buying the object shown on the postcard. For just a few dollars, and $1.00 shipping, I had a woman think she was buying a rare, German doll, in a private collection. Just a couple of days ago, the same thing happened with some petrified wood bookends. I always put Postcard in the title.

Then there was the woman who wanted to know how much I wanted for some church pews, which were shown in a church built in the 1700s.

I'm also wondering if some of my items, which were never paid for, are kids buying.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue Nov 19 17:43:07 2013

It depends on the kid, I think. Some can be quite mature at a younger age, so I'd have no problem dealing with them, provided they've got adult permission. Some of my friends' kids are perfect examples. Two of them have children who are quite mature and responsible at ages 13, 14, and 16. Another, however, has kids who are 14 and 16 who I would never allow to get their hands on a credit card or bank account.

I, myself, was fairly mature at a younger age and had a checking account of my own at 14 (with parental permission). My parents wanted me to learn how to manage money properly and felt that allowing me to make small purchases and do some of my own shopping was a good way to do it. I had a credit card at 18 when I went to college, though it had a low limit.

Yet, not everyone learns enough about finances to be able to handle the responsibility, even as adults. There are plenty of adults who are far less responsible than some of the teenagers I know and they're providing a poor example to their own kids. Managing your finances should be taught in schools so kids learn that the ATM isn't a magic money dispenser and that credit cards are not an endless source of funds that never needs to be paid back.  

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by: giftcentral This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Nov 19 20:18:46 2013

I would think being too young to have a credit card is too young to shop online.

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Sat Nov 23 05:24:40 2013

Great, now we will have 11 and 12 year old kids leaving joke dsr's on us- I gave that dude all 1's- ha ha!
Do we really want 11 and 12 year olds holding the power to ruin us?
18 years old period.
Over 12 years I have had the ''sorry we are not paying my kid bought it'' 8-10 times and it is getting old.
MH



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