Shop-and-tell web trend fuels tween addicts

Sunday 18 September 2011 14:56

According to researchers, in 2010 young shopaholics are on the rise due to the mega social media trend known as 'hauling.'

The old adage 'shop until you drop" has quickly become 'shop to post your best haul.'

A haul is essentially a YouTube show-and-tell vlog of recent purchases, normally fashion or cosmetics, and there is a growing concern that the attention is negative reinforcement enabling tween addicts. See:

Popular haulers capture nearly a million viewers in about six months.

And, companies (Forever21, Urban Outfitters) have jumped on board to hook them up with swag to promote their stores and goods, even holding haul competitions in an effort to promote tweendsetters and tweenpreneurs.

On September 27, April Lane Benson, PhD, a psychologist and author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop ($16.95/€12.58) explained to Relaxnews that compulsive buying is akin to eating disorders but more socially acceptable, even encouraged.

"There's a pretty dark underbelly here. Some of the bloggers are getting addicted to making these videos (and shopping til they drop); one 16-year-old is currently being home schooled to allow her more time to haul more stuff, and the 7-year-old sister of another blogger is taking an early lead in mesmerizing second-grade fashionistas. The real darkness, though, lies in the deeply false message these videos embody: that whoever said money can't buy happiness just didn't know where to shop," wrote Benson.

Here are five questions that Benson says can help identify if you have a shopping problem:

-  Is shopping a quick fix for the bruise?
-  Are you feeling depressed?
-  Are you unable to stop?
-  Do you feel guilty or ashamed about the behavior?
-  Do you frequently overspend and have many unused or hidden items?
-  Do you feel the need to keep your shopping sprees secret?

Also, she added that parents might be able to spot a problem or counteract it by pointing out how their children are using their time and how it could better be used while promoting "ideas and experiences as they are more fulfilling than good and services.

"Compulsive shopping unlike experiences breeds competitiveness and isolation."

Studies have shown that beyond haulers the web is fertile ground for shopaholics and shoppers that are looking to fill a void and anyone tempted should note that the hosts of shopping networks (QVC, HSN), infomercials and hauls "are not your friends.

For more on treatment and resources including Benson's book, go to:
Full study, "The Relationship Between Consumers' Tendencies to Buy Compulsively and Their Motivations to Shop and Buy on the Internet":
Full study, "When a Better Self is Only a Button Click Away: Associations Between Materialistic Values, Emotional and Identity-Related Buying Motives, and Compulsive Buying Tendency Online":

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