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Kids learn early how to be online buyers

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NEW YORK (4/9/08)—Even when they’re not actually making a purchase, children are learning how to buy online simply by downloading digital files (eMarketer.com March 3). The navigational skills required to download video clips, music, games, or ring tones are similar to those needed to make a purchase, giving youth an “online purchasing preschool.” Children--ranging in age from two to 14--who were surveyed about downloadable content reported that video clips were at the top of the list with an average of seven downloads per month. Music videos were a close second with 5.7 and music at 4.2. These activities typically require the user to register, search and compare, and navigate between screens--all skills needed to make a purchase. Even surfing the Web for a school project or for fun gives kids experience in researching and using sites quickly and effectively. Why should parents care? Because the next generation of online buyers will be ready and able to shop online with a credit card just as soon as they can get one of their own--or talk you into letting them use yours. There are pros and cons to shopping online, and teaching kids what to watch for can save you time, money, and frustration. These tips from Credit Union National Association’s Center for Personal Finance can help ensure that your kids are good money managers:
* Shop secure sites. Look for a URL that starts with "https" and make sure the site has a closed-lock icon at the bottom at the page. * Supervise your child’s use of your card. Remind the child that the card numbers are private and not to be shared. Explain that credit card thieves may use the number to purchase items on your account. * Find and read the privacy policy with your child. Together, learn what information the seller is gathering and how it will be used. Explain why you may not want to get on some mailing lists. * Review the return, refund, and shipping policies. This is a good opportunity to discuss the risks of buying the product with your child. Is the item worth the shipping cost? Can you return it if it doesn’t fit or you don’t like the color? Will you get your money back, or get credit that you won’t use? Make sure you--and your child--understand all the seller’s policies before buying online.