There’s no question that today’s American teens are the most digitally connected generation – with 95% saying they go online every day.

While teens are increasingly shopping more online, they still actually prefer shopping in brick and mortar retail stores with time spent shopping online decreasing from 27% to 24% in 2017.


Shopping online is gaining in popularity capturing 17% of teen’s overall shopping time, up from 10% in 2013. Not unlike their parents, teens favorite shopping destination is Amazon, preferred by both male and female teens, which makes their new service, Amazon for Teens, the perfect solution to help parents who maybe struggling with how to manage your teens online spending.

American Eagle5%
Forever 212%

What is Amazon for Teens?

Amazon introduced a new service this month for Prime subscribers which allows teens the ability to shop its site independently of parent’s accounts, but parents have the option to either:

  • Review all orders prior to final purchase; or
  • Set pre-set spending limits per order

This new service, available via, for Amazon Prime subscriber households that have teenagers ages 13 -17-years old.   

How It Works:

  • Teens place an order from their own log-in.

    Teens have their own separate log-in, so they are free to stream or shop their way. They can also include a personalized note to items in their shopping list like, “this is the book I need for class” or “I will keep my room clean if I can just please get this shirt.”
  • Parents are notified and review order.

    When a teen user places an order on the Amazon App, the parents will receive an email or text showing the item, cost shipping address and payment into.  
  • Parents approve the order.

    Parents can approve each order by replying “Y” via text or logging in to their account to approve or decline. Parents can also set pre-approved spending limits to have orders approved automatically.
  • Order is released for shipment.

    Teens and parent are send notification of estimated delivery date.

Where Are Teens Spending Their Money

Let’s give the kids some credit, despite having $44 billion in buying power, teenagers are selective in what they purchase and are generally buying less with teen spending dropping 2.4 % from 2016 to 2017, per Piper Jaffray Taking Stock with Teens survey.  Teen’s purchases, however, are shifting from items of clothing to experiences such as eating out, video games and leisure. See the breakdown of popular categories for teen spending below:

  • 24% Food
  • 19% Clothing
  • 9% Cars
  • 9% Accessories & Cosmetics
  • 8% Shoes
  • 8% Video Games
  • 7% Electronics

Top RestaurantsUpper Income Teens
Dunkin Donuts4%
Top RestaurantsAverage Income Teens
Olive Garden
Buffalo Wild Wings4%

Starbucks is the only public brand with double-digit mindshare across both income sets.

It’s Time to Make Financial Literacy a Priority

Most parents need to get their act together when it comes to teaching our children about financial literary. Parent’s ideal views of how they should interact and talk about money with their children and reality don’t always mesh. 

Although, according to Junior Achievement, there is a desire from both parents and teens to share money management advice. 

  • 89% of parents say their children learn about money from them. 
  • 84% of teens look to their parents to learn money management.  
  • More than a third of parents (34%) do not discuss money with their children with the philosophy “let the kids be kids.”

Percentage of Parents Who Say Their Children Learn Money Management From Them
Percentage of Parents Say Their Children Learn Money Management From Them89%
Percent of Teens Who Say They Look to Their Parents to Learn Money Management84%
Parents Who Do Not Discuss Money With Their Children and Let the "Kids be Kids"34%

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessed the financial literacy of 15-year-old students in the United States and 14 other education systems around the world and found that 22% of U.S. students don’t meet the basic standards for financial literacy proficiency. 

Overall, U.S. teens scored seventh among fifteen major countries, ranking below students from China, Belgium, Canada, Russia, the Netherlands, and Australia. But the good news is the study also found that there are simple thing parents can do today to help teens acquire financial literacy.
The one item that all higher-scoring children had in common is a bank account; teens with a bank account scored 42 points higher on average. Financial literacy experts encourage teens to have hands-on money management experience to be proficient in financial literacy. 

“The beauty of stating a savings account is, it’s teaching them to make deposits and watch that balance go up. Once they have a checking account and a debit card in hand it’s way too easy for that money to come out. And that’s where they get into trouble,” - Greg McBride, chief financial analyst, ​

Like their parents, teens can be prone to impulse spending, without considering long-term goals or budgetary issues. Parents should consider having their children fund their purchases from their own bank account, as this helps them manage impulse spending by encouraging budgeting.

About Kristin MacLaughlin

Mom of three, fosters rescued dogs, and is helping to drive the conversation about digital parenting as VP of Consumer Marketing for Zift.

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