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Are the Girl Scouts making a mistake by selling cookies online?

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind

Hold on to your thin mints, it’s Girl Scout cookie season—the time of year when young woman dressed in their brownie uniforms take your Samoa and Tagalongs order and deliver them a few weeks later. This year, however, The Girl Scouts are going digital. For the first time since the inception of Girl Scout Cookies in 1917, troops will be selling their goods online—the scouts will still have to initiate the sale but the hopes are that they learn something about e-commerce and online marketing through the program.

Some Girl Scouts will also be equipped with a mobile app that will make in person sales easier as well-- for the first time, customers will be able to pay for cookies via credit card.

“This is a full on business operation,” says Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita. “There’s color graphs, trending cookies…I guess it is giving the Girl Scouts a taste of the modern economy.”

"Digital Cookie is a game-changer for Girl Scouts, and a quantum leap forward in the evolution of the cookie program, coupling traditional sales activities with an online sales experience that teaches skills like online marketing and e-commerce, all in a digital space that puts an emphasis on learning, fun, and safety,” wrote Girl Scout CEO Anna Maria Chávez in a statement.

“My concern,” says Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task, “is that more girls are going to stop going door-to-door or stop setting up shop in front of a supermarket and will miss face-to-face interaction which is still a valuable skill even in today’s world of e-commerce.” The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that screen-time should be limited to 2-hours a day for children between 3 and 18 years-old and some research shows that excessive screen-time for children can lead to obesity, irregular sleep and social and behavioral issues.

There’s also the issue of security. Girl Scouts will be made to take a security pledge before they make their own websites and the sites won’t require girls to reveal any personal information, but they can choose to upload videos and pictures if they wish to. Some parents have expressed uncertainty about putting their young daughters out there on the Internet.

“I’m concerned as the father of a daughter about the security of the Girl Scouts themselves,” says Task. “There are a lot of creepy people out there and you’ve got to wonder if some people are searching for Girl Scout cookies to try to find some people are trying to be a predator against.”

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