Tweens have some serious buying power, with kids aged 8 to 12 spending approximately $30 billion of their own money each year, according to AdWeek. But instead of always heading to the mall, tweens are heading to their computer and shopping on the internet.
But today's parents did not have the option of shopping online when they were tweens and teens. So teaching our kids how to handle online shopping is brave new territory for everyone. Online shopping gives parents a lot to worry about, ranging from how to teach good spending habits to identity theft, when it comes to raising kids who are tech savvy and money smart.
Facts about kids and online shopping:
- 24% of 6-10 year olds and 57% of 11-15 year olds have shopped online on their own. (Source: PlayScience)
With parents wondering the best way to manage their kid's online shopping and give them a chance to learn about money management without completely giving up all control, enter Virtual Piggy.
Virtual Piggy is a a free, cloud-based service that satisfies both kids and parents while addressing the issues that arise with kids shopping online and helping kids learn about overall money management. Here's the scoop on how they do that.
- Parents first set up an account, and they can set limits for their kids' online shopping, including how much transactions can cost and how often transactions can be made. Parents receive notification when a child makes a purchase and they can retain the ability to approve or reject purchases.
- Parents can also make deposits into their children's accounts, which many parents welcome as a solution to the "Yes, you should get your allowance today but I'm low on cash or don't have small bills" problem. (I was comforted to learn at the Virtual Piggy brunch in Chicago this summer that I was not the only parent who has that issue.)
- Purchases can only be made at stores that have a relationship with Virtual Piggy and that list is growing, including the tween-favorite Claire's. I liked the selection of stores and while some wish it was bigger, I think starting with limited choice is not a bad thing for tweens who are just getting their internet shopping legs. To that point, Virtual Piggy also takes steps to protect online information and identity.
- Virtual Piggy isn't purely about retail. It also includes components of both saving and giving. The possibility for parents to match what their child saves could be a great way to encourage saving. It is possible to donate to charity through Virtual Piggy using a Charity Choice card.
The multifaceted approach, including a graphic showing a child what his/her net worth on the site is, really lets parents focus on financial management as a whole and not just on "I want the latest whatever and need the cash for it." That comprehensive approach not found elsewhere may be what is getting Virtual Piggy lots of accolades. This month it won both a National Parenting Publications Award and Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Best Technology Award for 2013.
Virtual Piggy has a section labeled Finance Tips with money management advice for kids and advice for parents on how to teach important financial lessons.
I wish that one website would handle all the issues that surround teaching kids about money management, that's just not possible. There are additional resources out there, though, that offer parents a lot of help when it comes to raising fiscally savvy kids, including:
- http://www.jumpstart.org/ - Financial Smarts for Students
- http://www.theheavypurse.com/ - Helping Parents Teach Simple Money Lessons
- http://www.moneyasyougrow.org/ - Age Appropriate Financial Lessons
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FTC Disclosure: I was a guest of Virtual Piggy at their hosted brunch in Chicago to introduce and explain what Virtual Piggy is and received a goody bag. All opinions are my own.