Raise an Online Shopping Savvy Child
Start Smart Online Shopping Early with Games for Kids
Frugal should have my oldest son’s middle name, and online shopping is where he is really beginning to shine. In this world where instant shopping access to everything from new socks to pet birds to antique door stoppers, our kids need to be equipped with the tools to navigate this increasingly growing purchasing approach.
Before he turned 13 my son knew the online shopping necessities of calculating shipping costs and taxes, determining which shipping method is the best for particular items, and the drawbacks of ordering collector cards from overseas locations. We need to give kids the tools to be savvy online shoppers, but it can be challenging to know where to begin. Sometimes turning the experience into a game is a great way to teach them what they will need to know before they start venturing out on their own.
Online Shopping Challenge for Kids
Ready, set, online shop! It’s not just as easy as that, but with this game kids can gain practical experiences for finding the best deals online. Choose a dollar amount that is relatively small, such as $10, to be the target price. Together with your child find something such as a toy, game, or book he would like to buy if he had $10 to do this. For younger children the challenge can be just determining if their idea of what $10 can buy is accurate, but for older kids take this game to the next level.
- Agree on which item your child will be seeking, such as a new yo-yo.
- Decide together if $10 also includes the price of shipping or if a separate shipping price needs to be added. This is a great opportunity to discuss things like the factors of weight, size, and special handling directions, as well as how far away the shipping location is from the destination – your son’s toy box.
- Choose a time frame for your game – you can race for a 30 minute time period or draw this out over several days for more in-depth searching for older kids.
- Each of you takes a turn searching for the desired item for sale online. (In our house we have established safety searching rules, including running “search phrases” by us first and utilizing security filtering software. Nothing keeps them safe though like good, engaged monitoring by us as parents.)
- The goal is to find the best deals available according to the variables you agreed upon in the beginning. Maybe you find the item for $6.95 with $3.00 shipping, but your child finds it for $7.99 with free shipping.
- Make a Venn diagram with your top choices, comparing them against each other. Older kids can make multiple comparisons, perhaps one diagram for positives and one for negatives.
- If your child wins the challenge he gets to order his toy with your $10, but if you win he gets to clean his toy box.
For a more advanced and detailed version of this challenge, include assembling online reviews as part of the tasks. One of the most valuable lessons my children have learned about online shopping is to search for multiple reviews from reliable sources. These things have greatly impacted their shopping decisions and have probably saved them a few dollars and many disappointments. Your child might find that even though a particular store has the best deal by $1.29 that it has the worst reviews and many complaints about order mix-ups, no-shows, or possible scams. We also implement a 24 hour waiting period for our kids once they decide to purchase an item. We want them to have time to thoughtfully think about their purchase before dragging that item into their virtual shopping cart.