Online shopping 

Shopping online, for gifts, food, holidays and much more, has many benefits. It’s convenient (you can do it from the comfort of your own home at any time, avoiding the queues!), offers you a wide choice of products and services and, by comparing prices across different shops, it can help you save money.

What do I need to know about online shopping? 

The benefits of online shopping are attractive to young shoppers too. Maybe your teenage son or daughter wants to buy tickets for a gig, save money on books or CDs, or get hold of the latest pair of trainers before any of their friends. With a number of internet payment options to choose from (eg debit cards, top-ups and pre-paid cards), the internet is one of the first places they could turn. Even if they don’t have a means of paying for stuff online, they might ask to borrow your credit card.

So, it’s important that they understand some of the things that could go wrong. They might get tricked into buying something on a fake website, they might not realise that additional costs are involved (eg for delivery) or they might accidentally give their personal information to a fraudster, for example.

Did you know?
"In making purchase decisions, teens rely on social media and mobile phones in both conventional and innovative ways. They share news about bargains with close friends via text messaging; they use the built-in camera on their phones to snap photos while trying on clothes, then upload the pictures to Facebook." eMarketer, August 2010

What action can I take? 

Set up Parental Controls and Safe Search on your child’s computer based on their age and maturity – but remember, they might not be 100% effective and they aren’t a substitute for parental supervision

Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall in place – to help protect your whole family when shopping online

Recommend online retailers you trust or ones that have been suggested by friends or family

Encourage your kids to shop around so that they get the best deals and to check a website’s returns and privacy policy before buying anything

Ensure that everyone in your family sets up strong passwords (a combination of letters, numbers and symbols) on websites they shop on

Make sure your kids understand what a secure website looks like – they should look for the padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window and for website addresses that begin with https (the ‘s’ stands for security)

If your son or daughter asks to borrow your credit card to buy something online, it’s better to make the purchase yourself rather than giving them your card details

Talk to your child about the potential risks of shopping on the internet, such as identity theft, security issues and escalating costs

Encourage them to print out a copy of any online orders and to check their bank statements after they’ve bought anything on the internet…and do the same yourself