Kids and Shopping Online

Shopping has never been easier. Half-off emails, super sale ads and "don’t miss" deals inundate our inboxes and social media feeds. This is a hard temptation to resist, especially if your self-control muscles are still developing like they are in our kids’ brains.  

One of our team’s sons repeatedly bought skateboarding gear using his mom’s PayPal account. “It went on for a couple of months until we noticed what was going on,” she says. Another friend’s daughter racked up $200 worth of charges on Apple. “It wasn’t until we saw the credit card statement that we realized she was buying movies, games and in-app purchases. Luckily, Apple was very generous about reversing most of the charges.”

Of course, not all kids and teens are buying things online, but many spend lots of time browsing retail sites, such as clothing sites. Some days I see my 16-year old daughter toggling back and forth between clothing sites and her homework sites.

An important thing to talk with kids about is whether they can stop and recognize the urge to leave their studies and go to another tab—before they actually do that.  And where is the urge stemming from? Is it surfacing from a homework problem that seems too hard? Or, might it come from a sense of anxiety because it's late in the evening and they feel pressure to finish so checking out a fashion site relieves the stress? Can they sit with the urge and not react but notice it passing on its own?

Here is a funny aside that relates to all this. Last weekend I was thinking about meditation and how on the one hand it seems so simple—it is all about focusing on the breath and not jumping on the train of passing thoughts. On the other hand, meditation is about changing the way our brains operate—the real goal of meditation is to see an urge and then not jump to act on the urge but to stop and decide how you want to respond. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS TO DO AGAIN AND AGAIN! Yep, we all do. It is all about the practice.

For this week's TTT here are some questions that you may find useful:

  • What are some of the upsides of being able to shop online? What are your favorite online browsing/shopping sites?
  • What are some of the downsides? ** I often feel sad about losing shops in all of our communities who just can't survive the online competition.
  • What are ways to stay on task longer with studying and not be pulled into switching to a s hopping site?