Amazon is giving the parents of teens an easy way to stay on top of their kids' spending habits...while still giving them some healthy freedom.

By Zara Husaini Hanawalt
October 11, 2017
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We've all heard horror stories of kids who rack up massive bills on their parents' Amazon accounts. But the ubiquitous online retailer has now given teens an opportunity to get a little online shopping freedom from their parents.

Amazon has just unveiled a feature that'll allow your children to shop independently on your Prime account. The best part? You won't be charged a thing until you approve their purchases.

Here's how it works: Under the new program, Amazon members can opt in for the service, which allows adults to add up to four teenagers to an account.

"We're doing this within the constructs of a family household," Michael Carr, who is the program's vice president, told "Parents set up a household for their family and then they invite their teens to be part of that: Then, their teens can create their log-ins and start shopping independently—but they're using an address provided by the parents and a credit card provided by the parents."
Credit: pixinoo/Shutterstock

Sounds risky? Don't worry: Your kids won't see your credit card information if you opt to use this service. And don't worry about them making purchases that are age-inappropriate or wildly expensive either—ultimately, you have final say in whether or not they can buy their items.

"When the [teens] go to place that order, what happens is that order is placed in a pending state—the credit card is not charged and the item is not shipped," Carr explained. "What happens next is the parents will get a notification [either via text or email] with a picture of the item, a description, the price and shipping information. At that point, the parent can decide if they want to approve the item or not. If they do, they think it's an appropriate item in terms of content and price, they simply text the letter 'Y' back and the purchase is approved."

If you're not comfortable with the purchase, it won't go through....though your kids do have the option of including a persuasive message when making the initial purchase. If you'd like to give your kids more freedom, you can opt to give them a spending limit and the ability to make purchases without your approval (you'll still get a notification every time your teen makes a purchase if you go this route, and if you're not comfortable with any of the purchases, you can follow a link to cancel them).

"What we're doing is empowering parents to have those conversations, to have the tools to be in the loop on the children's purchases," Carr, who is a father of a teenager himself, said. "Teens can have their independence, but parents can also have a very trusted shopping experience for their teens and families."