BillMyParents: Socialwise BMP BillMyParents Online Payment For Teens and Tweens Shopping

BillMyParents (BMP) has announced its “cute” new launch by Socialwise for teens and tweens to get parents to pay for their ever-increasing want list. With this new BillMyParents online payment system, teens and tweens can shop at online stores to their hearts content and spend their parents money, without parents actually giving teens their credit card.

BillMyParents, powered by Amazon.com, is of course a simple and easy process. What is BillMyParents? Teens and tweens browse and shop at online stores for things they want to purchase err, things teens want parents to purchase FOR them and when it’s time to “check out”, that’s where BillMyParents online payment system kicks into gear.

Parents receive an email or mobile text notification from BillMyParents (www.billmyparents.com or www.BMPshopping.com) that there’s something your teen/tween wants you to buy for them, then you as the parent decide whether to approve or deny the purchase. If the parent decides to allow the online transaction, the parent then puts in their credit card information to complete the purchase. The parents credit card information is not accessible to the teens/tweens.

Teens and tweens can purchase anything from Amazon.com via Socialwise’s online shopping site, and the company has partnered with online gaming websites to help teens and tweens indulge even more in their video game addiction obsession, as well as virtual worlds and social networks Habbo, Artix Entertainment, Outspark and Rock You!, among others.

Making a living by selling products or services is one thing, but targeted marketing towards children so investors can make a windfall from sales off of tweens and teens entitled wants and whims is just gross.

“Currently the video game companies need to try to target a small group in their advertising approach. Generally they cannot advertise to parents, since parents really don’t always know which games their kids like. So what they stick with is marketing to late teens to early thirties to capture the market that will respond to the ad and have money to buy the product. This is their main market. Of course younger groups will see an advertisement and bug their parents till their parents buy it for them, but this is only a bonus.

You must note, some of these games, and gaming systems will sell out in hours or days. We are talking MILLIONS of copies at $30-$60 each (not including gaming systems and controllers which can easily hit $400 or more). So what if a gaming company could advertise directly to the 10-18 yr. old group? Basically BMP solves this problem for every company in this situation. They can market right to the younger kids and advertise “Buy this now with BMP”. With the excitement about this market, IDAE has secured lots of discounted ads. This is a nice first step.”

SuperMom isn’t very happy about BillMyParents either, and I won’t be surprised when other parents express surprise at discovering the lengths marketers will go in their efforts to target young children, tween and teens with products. Cha-Ching! The next phase of BillMyParents will also include an “allowance” debit card for kids. Teens can login to their BillMyParents control panel either on the website directly to see what purchases have been approved or declined, or alternatively the platform will be launching account management applications on MySpace and Facebook in the coming weeks.

More than $132 billion is spent annually by youth, with $40 billion spent offline on products teens and tweens have researched online. 40% of teens say the reason why they don’t buy online is the lack of a credit card. James Collas, CEO of Socialwise, says about BillMyParents: “The online teen spending market is hugely underserved and BillMyParents is uniquely poised to tap into the desire for teens to be able to shop online, while still letting parents maintain control in a safe and secure environment.” Uh-huh. Targeted Marketing towards kids strikes again.

News reports say:

The BillMyParents payment system platform addresses this untapped teen spending market with a multifaceted approach to online payment processing for teens and tweens, and gives them an easy way to purchase products online without a credit card. Using the BillMyParents button at the point of sale, teens can initiate a purchase in seconds. Parents complete the purchase at their convenience through a simple, easy to use, and automated system enabled by instant email and text notifications.

There is no membership or monthly fee involved with BillMyParents (owned by Socialwise Inc), which some refer to as “Paypal for teens”, but parents do pay $.50 per transaction. I couldn’t help but laugh when I checked out the BillMyParents website, with teen/tween messages like: “I need a new deck”, “I need new tunes”, “I need the newest game”, “My Phone is so Old School”. Boohoo waaah.

Reading Reuter’s “don’t look at me, I’m just a kid, Bill My Parents!” take on BillMyParents new payment system for teens also made me laugh:

“The system geared to teens and tweens — who ideally have good relationships with their hopefully indulgent parents — allows parents to approve purchases coveted by their kids and foot the bill.”

Artix Entertainment’s business development manager, Daniel Vasile, explained the benefits of the partnership with BillMyParents this way:

“Our partnership with SocialWise and BillMyParents adds a valuable and unique payment feature to our online role playing games.” Vasile continues saying, “Many of our 80 million registered users worldwide are under 18, and by offering our young gamers and their parents an innovative, safe and easy way to make purchases and enhance game play, Artix is continuing to offer leading edge features that enhance the gaming experience.”

On the BillMyParents FAQ’s teen questions page: “Can I send a request to someone who is not my parent? Yes, you can. However, we recommend that you send your first request to your parent or legal guardian, and make sure it’s ok with them before you start sending requests to other adults.” Recommend??? Not Required???

Also on the FAQ’s page of parent questions: “Can I see who else is giving money to my child? Yes, you can. When you sign up as the parent/guardian of a child, you can see the names of all the people your child has sent requests to – Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, etc. You can also see how often your child is sending requests, and to whom.”

It’s the “ect.” that I find alarming, regarding who can give money to teens and tweens through BMP. Apparently, parents must login to the BillMyParents website in order to see “who else” is giving their child money and who their child is requesting money from. This appears to be a loophole that could easily be abused…by perpetrator’s targeting kids online and through social networking sites.

BillMyParents would be very wise to implement instant email and/or mobile text messages to parents each and every time their child requests money or payment for products from anyone other than their parent, or anytime “someone” attempts to send money to their child. Parents should receive these notices in a manner that allows the parent to block money requests or attempts to send their child money without the parents prior knowledge and approval.

Have you heard about BillMyParents? What do you think of this new tween/teen online payment system for kids?

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14 Responses to “BillMyParents: Socialwise BMP BillMyParents Online Payment For Teens and Tweens Shopping”

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  1. I didn’t check out the FAQ page, but now am even more disgusted with the fact that kids could pester their adult relatives into buying them things. I just can’t fathom condoning my children doing that. And you are absolutely right, the “etc” part loophole scares the daylights out of me.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Karlynn, I do hope BillMyParents will fix it so kids are protected, and parents are better informed with what they’re kids are up to and who they’re in contact with. The ramifications are quite scary if not fixed pronto.

  2. Todd Morris says:

    Hi Lin,

    I’m kind of torn on this one. On the one hand, marketers targeting my kids is very annoying … in much that same way, that Saturday morning cartoons are nothing like the days of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner when we were kids.

    But at the same time, I suppose that having the kids order through something like BMP, is much better than if one of my little angels was to just “borrow” my credit card.

    All-in-all, I can see how this service might even be convenient at times … especially for my kids who live with their mom.

    That being said, I won’t be at all disappointed if my 11 year old, video game loving step-son, doesn’t hear about this service anytime soon 🙂

    Todd

    • Lin says:

      Hi Todd,

      I’m not thrilled with BMP either. If your kids have access to a computer, have a MySpace page, a Facebook page or EVER PLAN to, then they’re going to learn about this service. I’m verrry concerned about any possibilities of loop holes when it comes to protecting kids from online perp’s (as you well know).

      I’m not convinced that the “convenience” of BMP is worth the risks…, not to mention how it feeds the egos and bank accounts of these pathetic marketers who are targeting children.

  3. T.B. says:

    I checked the FAQ page, like the author of this article. I also got in touch with customer service, and it appears that any Parent/Guardian can DELETE any other “Contributors” on the child’s account.

    I don’t think this is a bad idea, anymore. My 1st response, was “this is lazy parenting”, however i have to acknowledge like you, that MySpace, Facebook, and all the other merchants are after the $$$$ our children are spending, and the Technology of this age is going to make that a viable option.

    This would be really cool for COLLEGE STUDENTS, by the way, not just tweens.

    If I as the PARENT can see everyone who is on my kid’s list as a Contributor and WHAT they are buying, how long would it take me to realize, I DON’T KNOW THIS PERSON giving money to my child???

    Heavens, your kid’s school teacher could be a perp, or your next door neighbor watching your kids while you are away.

    I don’t think anyone is paranoid to raise safety concerns about their children and I hope someone will take your suggestions heavily!!

    • Lin says:

      Unless parents are sent notification instantly of any other contributors and especially any and all attempts to request money or receive money from ANYONE other than the parent, there’s a HUGE fear for kids receiving money from online perp’s just waiting for an opportunity like this. For me…, it’s still a NO.

  4. Rudy says:

    I’m basically against any commerce sites that I have no control over. It’s like me buying a car and let Obama pay the bill. It just ain’t gonna happen.

    I haven’t checked out the site, but I sure hope they can’t just bill anyone arbitrarily. If they do, I can see a lawsuit coming.

    • Lin says:

      Rudy, on the FAQ page for BillMyParents it says the tween/teens CAN send money requests to………… anyone they like, and then it’s up to the parent(s) to step up and delete any other contributors (whoever they may be). It’s very scarey to think that parents don’t automatically receive notices of interaction/money requests etc for their children. I can see all sorts of problems with this service if BillMyParents doesn’t close all the loop holes for perp’s.

      • T.B. says:

        My philosophy is “PARENTS CLOSE LOOPHOLES for perps!!”

        And that will mean for some parents, NO INTERNET for my child or NO BILL MY PARENTS account.

        But if i don’t MAKE TIME to monitor this situation, then my child is probably ALREADY caught up in something else i am unaware of.

  5. T.B. says:

    If your family has gone through some sort of online tragedy before, that can dilute your perception of anything going forward technology based.

    In all honesty, an “online perp” does NOT NEED Bill My Parents to buy your child anything. They could start a relationship through any social networking website or chat room or public acquaintance. They can then use their credit card to buy directly from Amazon, Ebay, etc…

    and ship it to your child…

    Be SOBER. It is my OPINION that if you can’t keep up with an online account that tells you every transaction and contact on the account, then you may not be parenting your child properly, spending TIME with your child and not just MONEY…

    Many children fall prey to online predators because they crave the attention they SHOULD BE getting from the home, but often are neglected by broken homes or hard working/ long hours/ overtime/ too busy/too tired for my child today guardians.

    You DON’T RECOGNIZE NEW STUFF in your own child’s possession.. that YOU DID NOT PURCHASE???

    I mean, how long should it take for a parent to notice what is going on in their own home?

    Building a strong relationship with your child should be the strategy. I think it would be nice for my sister to buy my son something online or my kid in college something they want. There are many benevolent people/friends in my family’s circle and i don’t mind if they want to share. But I will ultimately be in control of those decisions..

    that’s why i am called THE PARENT!

    • Lin says:

      I’m not opposed to technology advancing at all, and I believe parents have to be parents. BillMyParents sends an “instant” email or text notification to the parent when the teen/tween wants something bought for them, according to the FAQ page.

      BillMyParents should ALSO send an instant email or text notice to the parents each and every time their child so much as attempts to send a money request to anyone else, and most definitely anytime someone/anyone attempts to send money to their teen/tween or any other kind of communication between the child and anyone else other than the parent. That notification should include the ability to BLOCK the money request from being allowed to be sent to…whoever the kid is trying to get money from……, AND BLOCK the child from receiving money from someone/anyone other than the parent each and every time.

      Of course parents need to be the parents. “you don’t recognize new stuff….. th” at you did not purchase?” That’s exactly my point. The child has already received stuff – after the fact not before or while attempts are being made. The email/text notice would help parents protect their children from online predators who will be oh-so-anxious to get to and manipulate kids online with offers to buy them crap to gain their trust.

      That is my major issue – and BillMyParents can easily fix that loophole to help protect children online.

      • T.B. says:

        Valid points and specific plan of action.

        I can agree with you and respect you completely as a PARENT to want those options in place.

        Great Ideas Lin!

  6. Janet Fox says:

    I am not thrilled!! Though this can be a convenient way to let kids shop for themselves.. I guess the ill effects of it are gonna be scary. Its just like handing your kid a cart and letting him pick stuff in a super market and you’ll be waiting to sort out the items at the check out counter. Sounds easy and convenient but just think about it.. what if there is someone else waiting at the checkout counter who lets your kids have the wrong things???

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