First Facebook said it was exploring the idea of welcoming kids under 13 to the social network. Now Ebay is talking about letting kids under 18 shop on its site.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Ebay may allow kids under 18 to set up accounts– with parental authorization – in order to buy products on the site. Kids as young as 13 can already make payments using Ebay’s PayPal unit, as long as they have a parent’s permission.
“We wouldn’t allow a 15-year-old unfettered access to the site. We would want a parent, an adult as a ride-along,” said Devin Wenig, eBay’s president of global marketplaces in an interview with “The Wall Street Journal.”
Wenig also acknowledged that it’s likely that some minors are already shopping on Ebay by lying about their age (just as some kids lie about their age to use Facebook and other websites). Since Ebay sells some material that’s inappropriate for minors (sex toys, for example), there would be some “protections,” according to Wenig.
It makes perfect business sense. Kids are a huge untapped market and an obvious way for Facebook and Ebay to expand.
“Kids are the emerging market for these companies. You want to get teens into the fold early—they dictate what the family buys, they are going to be the most brand-loyal,” said Ed Mierzwinski, United States Public Interest Research Group consumer program director.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Ebay allowing kids on the site. On the one hand, it could be a good way to teach kids about managing money (with oversight from their parents, of course). On the other hand, the fewer sites marketing to kids, the better, as far as I’m concerned.
Is it just a matter of time before other online retailers like Amazon.com and Craigslist follow suit by opening their sites up to kids too?
What do you think? Would you let your kid have an Ebay account?
Photo: Shutterstock.com/Young Teenager Sitting on Desk