A new feature from Amazon will give teens a certain degree of autonomy to make purchases without requiring their parents to hand over their credit card numbers.
Starting on Wednesday, Amazon is rolling out a service in its mobile app that lets teens, ages 13 to 17, sign up for an Amazon account linked to one of their parent’s accounts. Teens can select items that they’d like to buy, and Amazon will send their parents a text message with a description of the item and a link to approve the purchase.
This service can also be used for streaming any of Amazon’s content to the mobile app, and if parents have signed up for Amazon Prime, certain benefits of a Prime membership (such as Prime Video and Twitch Prime) can be extended to that teenager’s account. If you’d rather not approve every purchase (or want to teach some lessons about money management), parents can set spending limits for the linked accounts of their teenagers.
U.S. online privacy laws mandate that web companies require users to be at least 13 years old without explicit parental permission, but Amazon’s terms of service are actually a little stricter, requiring anyone under 18 to get parental permission to use its services.
If you’re a teen who wants to use this new service, Amazon’s sign-up process requires you to send a link to your parent before you can actually do anything. And if you’re a parent, Amazon requires that you certify that your teen’s phone number or email address needed to link their accounts belongs to someone between the ages of 13 and 17.
It’s hard to tell if this will jump-start a lot of teen spending through Amazon; after all, teens have been successfully hectoring their parents to buy them things since long before the internet. And parents can add their minor children as authorized users of their credit cards or co-sign credit card applications for their college-aged kids, allowing them to spend their money online.
But for a generation that spends so much of its time glued to its mobile phones while their parents work longer and longer hours to make ends meet, this could greatly simplify the process.