When I was 13, I was selling first edition Garbage Pail Kids cards on the playground for a $1 a card. Imagine what I kind of money I could have made if the Internet was around and I had access to eBay.
Looking back, I was just an innocent kid with stuff other kids wanted and the playground was my marketplace. There were no age restrictions, the sales were cash, and I got rid of excess stuff.
Fast forward 25 years when most 13 year olds have smart phones and access to the Internet. Would my entrepreneurial spirit be viewed the same? I say no.
No longer are kids selling at the community park. Their marketplace is the worldwide web, sales are completed using PayPal, and adults are required to ensure all transactions are safe.
It isn't surprising that individuals must be at least 18 years old to be an eBay member and individuals under 18 can only sell on Etsy within a shop that their parent or guardian manages.
So, what's the harm of letting a young teen set up "shop" on eBay or Etsy? Yes, it may help encourage entrepreneurialism, but it may also open a whole other world you are not ready to explore with them.
As much as we'd like to keep them off the Internet, young teens are finding ways to access online marketplaces. Whether parents allow them to or not, parents need to be proactive – set up security parameters, check their emails, and most importantly be their watchdog.
Unfortunately, we don't know who lurks on the other side of your young teen's transaction and like all Internet –based accounts, parental hand-holding is a must and even more so on eBay and Etsy since money is being exchanged.
Only you know if your young teen can handle the responsibility. Talk with them about the risks and about taking accountability while using your account.
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom of two boys, a 5-year-old and 2-year-old. She is always thinking about economics and uses her time as teachable moments.