Back-to-School Shopping: Kids Influenced by Social Media Push Parents to Overspend

Shopping, Family, Shopping Mall, Child, Store

By Elizabeth Renter | Nasdaq

Kids pushing their parents for the coolest in back-to-school gear is a late-summer tradition, and today, youngsters have some backup: social media influencers.

Peer and social media influences on children are not news unto themselves, but it turns out these factors are affecting how parents spend their back-to-school dollars, according to a new NerdWallet survey conducted online by The Harris Poll.

The online survey included 2,010 U.S. adults, among whom 595 are parents of kids in kindergarten through college. Of those parents, at least 6 in 10 say their children are influenced by peers or social media when making their back-to-school wishlist. And about half of these parents (51%) say they typically end up buying back-to-school products their kids want because of these influences.

“The whole notion of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is amplified on social media, with an entire army of influencers telling your child what they ‘need’ to have this year. That can make back-to-school shopping a real headache,” says NerdWallet personal finance expert, Kelsey Sheehy. “Ease the pressure by having a plan in place before you get started. You can even turn it into a learning opportunity and involve your child in the process so they can learn to prioritize and work within a budget.”

Here’s how parents are thinking about their back-to-school shopping lists, along with some tips on how to manage the costs and potential frustrations.

Key findings

  • Nearly all (97%) of parents with children in kindergarten through college plan on back-to-school shopping this year.
  • Half (50%) of parents planning to do back-to-school shopping this year say they’ll likely splurge, compared with 93% of those who shopped last year who say they splurged.
  • Six in 10 parents (60%) with kids in school say their children are influenced by social media and 67% say their children are influenced by friends on what they want to buy for back-to-school.
  • More than half (52%) of these parents say they feel pressured by their children to buy back-to-school items they want, even if they cost more than they’d normally want to spend.

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