Your Kid Is The New Easy Money

Raising kids in a digital world is difficult. It creates so many new challenges I never experienced growing up. So here are some helpful rules for today’s parents:

  • be tech savvy
  • keep computers and screens in the kitchen
  • fiercely guard the ITunes password

Yet my Visa is a testament to a battle lost twice – for hundreds of dollars.  To whom?  Free downloadable games. I’ve spent money on hats, belts, food, gems, and coins while my son clicked happily away on his games with no idea that these virtual tokens were linked directly to my Visa.

The first incident was an online game platform where you had to purchase one entry game. Nowhere on the agreement did it state that my credit card would be linked to other games. Imagine my surprise at the three-page visa bill filled with heaps of $1 – $4 charges. After going through a myriad of online support (or stupidity), I finally got these unapproved charges reversed.

Ok, lesson learned. I showed my son free apps on his iTouch.  All was well again, until I saw my iTunes bill – a full page of ‘creature pamper purchases’ for $90! So I downloaded the game myself – and sure enough there was a small-print disclaimer that in-app purchases can be made and an even smaller suggestion to disable it.  (FYI – as soon as junior gets his new iTouch – go into Settings, General, Restrictions and turn off in–app purchases. There – saved you a few bucks!)

So who’s looking out for the average Joe and his kids?  How can a freebie app turn into a credit nightmare?  I know I wouldn’t invite you to dinner and send a bill later. Where’s the warning to tell my kid that those creature gems will cost real coins? How about a little commercial responsibility for games that target children?

My son just finished cleaning out our camper to pay off his app debt. I didn’t have him pay me in real currency as he is already confused enough about how an honest dollar is made in this day and age.

—Written by Pat Minor. Pat is an educator specializing in e-learning and webinar delivery. She resides close to Calgary and enjoys skiing with her family once her free game charges are all caught up.

Scott Cornell

When he’s not knee deep in blogging and all things tech, Scott spends his free time playing ultimate Frisbee and watching foreign films. An expert in emerging tech trends, Scott always has his ear to ground for breaking news related to IT security.