eBay Explores Plans to Reach Out to Under-18 Buyers

Kids are an untapped market that eBay is looking to tap into.

Although the online auction giant currently limits accounts to people who are over 18 years of age, this may change shortly according the Devin Wenig, eBay’s president of global marketplaces. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Wenig explained the plan and addressed privacy and content concerns.

eBay plans on requiring parental authorization for kids to set up their accounts, and they will be able to search through the site in a controlled environment that removes the option to view or purchase adult content and products. Even with these safeguards in place, Wenig recommends that parents not allow their children to go free rein on the site. “We would want a parent [or] adult as a ride-along,” says Wenig. The rollout for under-18 accounts will start sometime in the next nine months, but the plans aren’t complete yet.

The online auction giant is just one of many tech sites setting its sights a little lower age-wise. Since today’s teenagers were raised with the Internet, most are very tech-savvy and eager to get more access to tools and sites that were once closed off to them. Although many tech executives admit that minors make up a large part of their business, it’s hard to legitimize their participation due to privacy and content concerns. Still, many underage users are registering for and using sites like eBay with false information.

eBay and other tech companies that want to cater to minors will need to strike a balance between using these new users to gather more data for online media buying, and making parents comfortable enough to allow their children to use these sites. Since many users are already accessing the site with false birthday information, there will need to be a strong motivator to get them to move over to the minor-friendly accounts.

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