My son has excelled himself yet again. Raising boys seems different to raising girls and I recently wrote that I find the tween years tricky and this week even more so. This generation of tweens and teens are the first to grow up with the technology of smartphones and ipods in their pockets. Dylan had his iPod for Christmas and along with it came some responsibilities. We had ground rules but we still had a little blip along the way when he googled wwe sexy ladies but we moved on from that and he hasn’t been known to do it again.
This week I was invited to be part of a google hangout with Kapersky Lab who have the same concerns as many parents regarding safe internet use and children. It was great to share ideas about how we keep the internet safe for our youngsters. We discussed how much screen time should be had, about privacy issues, health issues and also online bullying. All of these are very relevant to me as both a parent and a teacher. I have seen the fall out caused by social media and I class myself as very aware in these matters. It was good to be reminded how to stay safe online and listen to software that is being produced to help keep the internet safe.
However that was Tuesday and by Wednesday night I wasn’t quite so confident, quite so blase. I looked at my bank statement last week and spotted several transactions I did not recognise. Each for £8.79 and there were five of them all in one day. I contacted both itunes who had taken the money and also my bank. A check on my previous purchases showed that I had not made these transactions. I was a bit concerned and rather cross (it was lucky I had even spotted this withdrawal). After a few more conversations it became apparent that the money had indeed been linked to my card but not through the account I expected. It was from Dylan’s account though which has my card details registered when we set it up.
It appears that my delightful son had managed to spend £65 on gems for a game that he and his friends play called clash of the clans. I am pleased to say that the money has been refunded and I have been given the instructions on how to stop this happening again. Dylan was very upset as he had no idea that he had spent so much. He thought he had spent £10 credit that he had (he is also in trouble for that, as i had told him he couldn’t but that is a whole other blog post) but he is genuinely upset about spending so much. He doesn’t know it has been refunded and I am not telling him that. I want him to stew about it! Don’t get me wrong I am angry at iTunes and at Dyl as he did know he was spending money. He isn’t that naive that he didn’t know but he has no idea how much they actually cost.
In order to stop this happening you can switch off the ability to buy in app purchases. If you go to settings > general> enable restrictions> then click off to in app purchases it will not allow this happen. I have also diasbled him from downloading any apps atall. He will need me to do that from now on.
We have since done this to all our devices but it is a little like bolting the door after the pony has escaped.I’m shocked that this happened to us as I thought we were quite savvy. I guess we just underestimated how easy and tempting it is for a ten year old to buy these add ons, that seem to enhance their gaming. I tried explaining to Dyl last night that he has nothing to show for that money. How it is the equivalent of four tickets to Villa or the new football strip.
I makes me cross that my child has been exploited which I really believe this amounts too. This game is targeted at his age group and I feel that in app purchases should not be available. What adult in their right mind would really spend their money on gems! It is a marketing ploy and that I guess is why the game is free, to then make money this way.