THE BLOG

Parental Rights - What Do You Need to Know if Your Child Shops Online?

31/05/2013 09:39 BST | Updated 30/07/2013 10:12 BST

More than 90% of all 5-15 year olds used the internet last year- including 100 percent of 12-15 year olds. With E-commerce taking over the high street, it's not just gaming and chatting, children are shopping too. But are parents aware of their activity?

Without awareness, parents could be in for a big shock when they receive the next bank statement if the credit card has been 'borrowed'.

Parents must understand the impact online shopping has on their children - then they can learn about their rights and obligations to maintain control.

What parents need to know - Some sites ask whether the consumer is 18 years old but the user simply has to tick a box to indicate their age.

According to Naveen Aricatt, legal expert at Trusted Shops, it is the duty of the supplier to ensure that the consumer is not a minor - contracts require the consumer to be 18 years of age, so if a child makes a purchase, the contract can be contested by the parent.

What to do - Parent's have a right to a 7-day 'cooling off' period which means a purchase can be cancelled without reason - it just means notifying the supplier. Suppliers must reimburse the consumer within 30 days.

If the supplier expects the consumer to pay for the goods to be returned, this must be stated in the original contract.

When a purchase is made on a site carrying a Trusted Shops trustmark parents are able to get in touch with the Trusted Shops service team for more help when having trouble with orders.

Keeping track of all these online activities can be tricky for parents - follow these top tips to avoid unauthorised spending:

Understand the tech - If parents are open to learning about technology they will better understand the risks of the internet and learn how online shops operate. With a little research they will understand how to set up parental controls so websites can be restricted from view on the home computer.

Individual profiles - If parents give their kids access to their computer, how can they guarantee children won't use their personal details in online shops? Creating a user profile takes a few minutes, but in doing so, isolates access to personal data and adult banking stored on the device.

Know what children are looking at - Making time to spend with a child to monitor their computer activity is always an effective way to gain initial insight into what they're interested in - from there, parents can advise accordingly as to what is/isn't appropriate.

Cover all mobile devices - If you've got your computer covered, don't forget about your phone - it's easy to leave your phone behind and forget there are children around, but within a few clicks, if your credit card is linked to an app store/alternative shop, a payment can be made easily. A recent Microsoft survey has shown that children can make in-app purchases from tablets and smartphones linked to parents' accounts within a few clicks - so the dangers aren't just online stores accessed from a computer, but applications accessed on mobile devices. A simple solution is to create a password for your phone, so ideally nobody but you may use it.