Being smart with under 18’s online shopping

Kids under 18 are all over the Internet — Facebook, Twitter and generally being on top of all things technological — but one big thing they’re not allowed to do on the web is to shop freely. Teens, or to put it more precisely, under 18’s are restricted by law from opening their own credit card accounts and without unfettered access to credit and credit cards, the under-18 market is restrictive in the general sense. Sure, teenagers may pretend to be someone else…or to put it more precisely, may pretend to be someone else that is over 18 years of age.

A brief search of online sites shows that the most popular websites in Ireland currently are Google (it holds the top two positions; Google.ie and Google.com), Facebook (3), YouTube (4) and Wikipedia (5).

Of the e-commerce sites, the top ones include eBay (13), DoneDeal (15) and Amazon (17).

When it comes to international trends, the most popular websites for young adults are gaming sites, including Gamespot, Battlenet and Xbox.

For young adults, there are lots of sites where they congregate and as well as view goods that are available to purchase.

PayPal ranks in the top 20 most popular sites in Ireland and it is one of the powerhouses of online commerce these days. It operates a relatively simple payment clearance system where it facilitates the purchase of goods between buyers and sellers.

PayPal has been growing its business development teams both here in Ireland and across the globe to ensure that its payment systems are used more and more in online commerce and recently, in the US, it has announced plans to review how it can make its services more accessible to young adults.

Here in Ireland, PayPal confirmed that the minimum age to open a PayPal account is 18 years of age, which is the same age one needs in order to be approved for other financial products, including car loans and credit cards.

PayPal would like to increase the number of users to allow more people to shop on eBay for whatever catches their fancy, but not just eBay, but many other online stores that use PayPal as a payment option.

Asos, the UK retailer for example have a little PayPal icon on its website. Asos is a predominantly younger market audience and PayPal is keen to grab some of that youth market in the payment options…and generate more income for this very large international corporation.

So, what up with PayPal if one has to be 18 or older to open an account? Invariably, this will lead back to the bank of mom and dad. In other words, PayPal will need mom and dad up to a point and perhaps ‘advise’ that certain areas of their services are supervised to ensure that their under-18 rules, or to be more precise, the under-18 rules nationally are adhered to. But this is perhaps easier said than done. If PayPal look to include under 18’s here in Ireland, it will be interesting to see what marketing messages and channels they will use.

One thing is for certain, the under 18 market is way too important to ignore. Expect those large organisations to come knocking soon and expect consumer groups to be keeping a close eye and the battle for the teenage cash heats up!

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