PayPal Survey Reveals Disparity Between What’s on Parents’ and Students’ Back-to-School Shopping Lists
While High School Boys Still Favor Hip-Hop Inspired Baggy Clothing, Parents and Girls are Hoping this Fad will Fade

SAN JOSE, Calif.--A late summer ritual is alive and well this back-to-school shopping season - parents and students continue to disagree over what constitutes a must-buy purchase for the coming school year. This is according to a new PayPal survey conducted in June by ACNielsen Customized Research, a service of The Nielsen Company.

The generation gap was especially pronounced for high school boys, whose taste for consumer electronics and edgy fashion can wildly diverge from their parents. Back-to-school shopping used to be strictly about clothes and school supplies, but especially for boys, electronic goods are coveted items. Among the surveys respondents, 36 percent of high school boys versus 24 percent of girls spontaneously mentioned electronic gear as the coolest items for back-to-school.

In contrast, parents surveyed overwhelmingly listed the traditional back-to-school items as essential: school supplies, clothing and accessories, and a backpack. Whereas 44 percent of parents thought text books were essential, only 8 percent of their high school offspring listed such items. And while about a third of high school students listed cell phones, music and DVDs, and MP3 players, the percentage of parents who agreed never climbed out of the single digits.

Were used to the idea that girls will argue with their mothers over hemlines and makeup, said Kathryn Finney "The Budget Fashionista®", and PayPal expert. The survey shows that boys ideas of whats an essential back-to-school purchase can be every bit as divisive. Our advice to parents: remember that school is as much a social scene as an academic one, so finding some middle ground is necessary.

The survey also showed that male fashion can be more controversial. Among high school boys, 31 percent thought that hip-hop inspired baggy clothes were cool, versus 33 percent of parents who labeled the clothes an inappropriate fad.

Interestingly enough, high school girls tend to agree with parents, said Finney. Of the respondents, only 17 percent of high school girls actually want to see their male friends in baggy clothes.

If peer pressure is any indicator, baggy may be headed out. Girls liked to see boys in tight t-shirts, and both genders liked girls in skinny jeans. The trend seems to hold somewhat for older siblings. College girls reported the fashion trend now favors casual jeans and t-shirts, along with hot colors, low-cut tank tops and high heels.

For college boys, casual jeans and t-shirts remain the perennial favorite, but more formal clothes like khakis, dress shirts and sweaters get a favorable nod. For these older students, skin-tight jeans and shirts, popular last year, have gone out of style.

Parents and students alike can find this seasons hottest back-to-school tips, style items and promotions by visiting

Additional findings from PayPals Back-to-School Survey include:

  • More than two-thirds of high school teens get their parents to buy items that their parents dont approve.
  • High school students expect that their parents will spend $350 on average for their back-to-school shopping.
  • Parents with kids ages 5-17 estimate spending $252 dollars per child on back-to-school shopping.
  • More than four in ten high school students will contribute at least a small portion of their own money for back-to-school purchases.
  • 43 percent of high school students will buy some of their back-to-school items online and they will mostly shop for clothes, electronics and shoes.

About the survey

The PayPal Back-to-School survey was conducted by ACNielsen Customized Research, a service of The Nielsen Company, from June 27 to July 10, 2007 via email invitation to online panelists. The total sample size was 1500 respondents, divided evenly among parents, high school students and college students, with quotas to ensure sample distribution by age and gender according to the online population.

About PayPal

PayPal is the safer, easier way to pay and get paid online. The service allows anyone to pay without sharing financial information and gives consumers the flexibility to pay in any way they prefer, including through credit cards, bank accounts or account balances. With more than 153 million accounts in 190 markets and 17 currencies around the world, PayPal enables global ecommerce. PayPal is an eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) company. More information about the company can be found at

About The Nielsen Company

The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions and recognized brands in marketing information (AC Nielsen), media information (Nielsen Media Research), trade shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, AdWeek). The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and New York, USA. For more information, please visit

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