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Gen Alpha isn’t ditching its “iPad kid” reputation anytime soon. The youngest generation, born between 2010 and today, is so online that its members have taken up a new hobby beyond scrolling social media and watching YouTube: online shopping.

Parents say their kids are spending over two hours a week, on average, shopping online, according to a new report from content moderation consultancy WebPurify, using data from market research platform Censuswide. Of over 1,000 U.S. parents surveyed, 16% said their children had an online-shopping addiction, with 22% saying kids prefer online shopping to other forms of entertainment, such as watching TV. Almost half say their kids buy themselves clothes online, followed by 32% that are interested in beauty products.

“Whether we like it or not, many kids are chronically online, having grown up with the internet,” Alex Popken, vice president of trust and safety at WebPurify, told Fortune. “They have a level of digital literacy in navigating sites above and beyond what their parents have.”

Gen Alpha, projected to be the largest generation in history with over 2 billion people, not only has immense spending power, but is also more vulnerable to online-marketing tactics, Popken said. Indeed, Gen Alpha is susceptible to the “bandwagon effect” of buying products either because everyone has it or because no one has it and it represents status among peers. Look no further than Stanley cups, which became so sought after that they incited middle-school fights, or influencer Logan Paul’s Prime drinks, a once-favorite of tweens that generated $1.2 billion in sales.

“It’s really pronounced in that age group,” Mindy Weinstein, founder and CEO of digital-marketing company Market MindShift, told the Washington Post. “They aren’t always sure where they fit into the world. But now by buying that [item] they feel like they fit in.”

E-commerce is everywhere

It’s not always the case that Gen Alpha seeks out online shopping. The internet is luring kids and tweens to e-commerce through the games and apps and influencers that are shockingly close to them in age. 

The next generation of influencers are kids, particularly young girls, such as 7-year-old twins Koti and Haven Garza, who have 4.8 million TikTok followers. One-third of preteens said influencing was their career goal, with the influencer economy worth $250 billion and expected to double to $470 billion by 2027, according to Goldman Sachs. Almost half of parents in WebPurify’s report said their kid was “easily influenced” by online content creators.

“They have amazing control over kids’ purchasing power and over influencing kids into wanting certain products,” Popken said.

But more broadly, social-media sites beloved by Gen Alpha are no longer for connecting and having fun; they’re now made for shopping, she argued.

“Even in these gaming platforms that have traditionally been reserved for children, e-commerce is becoming a really monetizable form,” she said. “We’re just seeing kids being inundated with this content more often.”

Gaming platform Roblox announced a partnership with Walmart, essentially allowing users to scroll through the retailer’s website and buy products through its gameplay. The announcement comes just weeks after Roblox’s decision to embed ads into the site’s gameplay, pitching virtual billboards to sell real-life products. The practice follows tactics used by social networks such as Facebook, which launched the Facebook Shop feature in 2020 for users to browse online businesses, and—more popular among Gen Alpha—Instagram and TikTok, both of which have shopping platforms, such as TikTok Shop, embedded into its interface.

But Popken warned the spread of e-commerce and influencers will have downsides beyond young people being lured by brands and businesses. Not always targeted toward Gen Alpha consumers, influencers are also the target of online bullying and sexual abuse, a New York Times investigation found. The e-commerce boom will also likely lead to the proliferation of counterfeit listings and fake reviews, unpleasant side effects of online shopping that don’t just impact Gen Alpha.

“We can expect that will continue to happen,” she said. “And that’s age-agnostic.”

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شركة النمر هي شركة متخصصة في تصميم وادارة المواقع الالكترونية والارشفة وكتابة المحتوى والتسويق الالكتروني وتقدم العديد من خدمات حلول المواقع الالكترونية والتطبيقات وهي شركة رسمية ومسجلة منذ عام 2015.

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