I remember shopping with my mom when I was in high school. We would go to the mall, and I would finesse her into asking me to try something on so that she would see me standing there in all my loveliness and she would just have to whip out her credit card — out of sheer, unadulterated love for yours truly. It seems I would have been saved all of that tiring finessing if I were a teen in 2017, because Amazon is letting kids shop on their parents' account these days. And as a parent of a teen, I might be literally paralyzed with terror.
Now before anyone starts hyperventilating, it bears noting that teens between the ages of 13-17 are technically only allowed to shop on Amazon with their parents' approval. The company announced on Thursday, according to The Washington Post, that teens will be able to use an Amazon Household account on an app on their phone to buy things in the Amazon marketplace, but fear not; parents will be notified of every purchase via email or text, as The Verge explained. What's more, they will have to also approve each purchase by default.
Now here is where things get entertaining: teens who sign up for the Amazon Teen program will be offered the chance to include a note explaining why they need to purchase said item, and I'm seeing the opportunity for some entertaining parenting screen shots in the near future.
Parents, who might now enjoy a renewed sense of omniscient power, can either approve the purchase with a simple "Y" reply. Unfortunately, parents can't deny the order by replying to the automated message (because wouldn't that be the easiest thing in the world?). An Amazon spokesperson explained to CNN Money that parents will be given 30 minutes to cancel the order, so that's something.
Teens who use this service will also be offered access to Prime Video and Twitch Prime (which is the gaming service), but take comfort in the knowledge that parents' privacy will be protected; credit card information and browsing histories will be hidden on teen accounts.
The company will allow parents to add up to four teens in their household to this new Amazon service. According to NBC News, Michael Carr, vice president of Amazon Household, said in a statement:
What we're looking at is balancing independence for teens and convenience and trust with parents. As a parent of a teen, I know how they crave independence, but at the same time that has to be balanced with the convenience and trust that parents need. We've listened to families and have built a great experience for teens and parents.
While the idea of a teenager running rampant with one's credit card is obviously the stuff of nightmares, it seems that Amazon has gone to great lengths to offer teens the independence they need while making that independence more manageable for parents.
Amazon has become one of the most popular shopping sites for teens, according to The Washington Post, with 49 percent of teens surveyed by financial firm Piper Jaffray saying they preferred Amazon above all other possibilities.
Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategies explained why this new way of shopping might prove popular with teens to NBC News:
Amazon has most households and therefore most adult Americans as customers. The company is now going after businesses and now kids as customers. If parents can tell their kids to 'get it on Amazon,' it saves parents time.
There could be a possible downside, of course; an inflated sense of entitlement. "We’re essentially telling our children they can get whatever they want, whenever they want it," Betsy Brown Braun, a child development and behavior specialist, explained to The Washington Post. "This could create a whole new set of problems."
However you might feel about teens shopping on their parents' accounts, it's the future and it's happening. So I suppose it's time for me to stop hyperventilating and go get signed up.
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