Amazon today announced a new way for teens to shop its site independently of their parents' accounts and place their own orders, which parents can choose to review before allowing the purchase. Teens can also be assigned pre-set spending limits per order as an alternative to having orders reviewed.
The new service, available via amazon.com/forteens, is meant to give teenagers ages 13 through 17 a bit more autonomy, says Amazon.
In addition, it gives Amazon a way to addict a whole new crop of shoppers to its larger Prime platform, which is made available to teens through the service, if parents are Prime members. That means teens can order from over 50 million items that ship for free in two days, and they can take advantage of other Prime benefits like Prime Video and the gaming perks with Twitch Prime.
The system works by giving teens their own login and password to use with Amazon. Parents can either sign up their teen, or a teen can send an invitation to mom or dad via SMS or email. Once received, the parent confirms which payment method and shipping address will be used for teens' orders.
Afterwards, the teen will log into the Amazon App using their own username and password. When they find something they want to buy, that item is sent to the parent for approval via text or email. Teens can also optionally attach a note, like "this is the book I need for class," Amazon says.
Order approvals are switched on by default, so if a parent wants to allow a teen to shop Amazon without each item being reviewed they'll have to explicitly disable this feature. But for parents who don't want to review everything in advance, the option to set pre-approved spending limits is available, too.
However, even in the cases where teens are allowed to place their own orders, parents can receive itemized notifications for every order and they're able to cancel or return items, as usual.
The new teen accounts are a part of Amazon Households, the Amazon feature that allows customers to share their Prime accounts with other family members, create shared digital libraries for the family, and share credit and debit cards.
Already, Households allows customers to add other adults to their group as well as children (12 and under) as a part of other services like the kid-friendly subscription Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, for instance.
On this page, there's now a new option to add a teen, as well as configure the settings associated with their account.
“As a parent of a teen, I know how they crave independence, but at the same time that has to be balanced with the convenience and trust that parents need. We’ve listened to families and have built a great experience for both teens and parents,” said Michael Carr, Vice President, Amazon Households, in a statement about the launch.
While teens' orders through the new system are tied to a shared credit card for the family, it's likely that, in many cases, teens will be paying for those purchases themselves by giving mom or dad cash back at home.
That means Amazon would then be tapping into the pocket money teens may have on hand from their part-time jobs, babysitting money, allowances and the like. In the past, this is the money teens may have spent at the mall instead.
The next step for Amazon would be to make it easier for teens to use this cash, perhaps by configuring a digital allowance parents can dole out to teens' accounts.
For the time being, however, the feature is more about letting teens shop a bit more independently.
Amazon for teens is live today via Amazon.com/forteens.