Child Runs Up £900 Bill On ‘Free’ Game
For the last few weeks, a English ‘news paper’ (I use the term news very lightly) has been running stories to do with children running up huge bills on Tablets and Smart phones. This weeks story focuses on a 6 year old girl who ran up a bill of £900 through a My Little Pony free game on the iPad. These stories are always from the point of view of someone who seemingly has never used a trial version of a game, or a free to play game with micro-transactions. This story is no different.
The bare bones of the story is that a mother let her child play on the iPad. The child clicked a ‘buy now option’ which of course resulted in the child spending her mother’s money. After the mother seen the £900 bill she freaked out and contacted iTunes and received a refund. The mother lashed out by saying:
”What a con, It’s a sneaky the way these free games take your cash. I would expect a real nine-carat donkey for that amount”
Now this story brings up a familiar theme to do with parents and a lack of interest/responsibility when it comes to games and children. Surely the mother, ironically her job is an accountant, should at least check out what her child is playing? The majority of people who own a iPad/iPhone are well aware of iTunes/Apps and their use of micro-transactions. This mother appears to of turned a blind eye and taken the mind set of ‘it’s just a game’.
On the subject of her statement on the nature of the game. Every game/app makes it quite clear when something is going to bring about additional costs. This again points towards the mothers ignorant attitude and lack of responsibility. It’s a huge shame that in 2013 people are still struggling to take responsibility for their actions.
The Suns devilish tricks are also present within the short piece, after all its just what they always seem to do. When anything remotely anti-video game is present in The Sun they tend to play up on ‘innocence’ and vulnerability. This piece is no different. To The Suns credit they did feature a counter argument to the mothers statement. Consumer editor Daniel Jones makes some valid points by asking why did the child have access to the iTunes password? He also reminds people that paternal controls are there to be used.
His main point covers a subject I’ve always wondered about. Are free to play micro-transaction games aimed at children right? I speak of course in a ethical sense. Explaining micro-transactions to some adults is hard enough, trying explaining it to a child. At the moment, the number of these games aimed at children are in the low numbers, but they are increasing slowly. Is it a dirty practice to aim these games at children? Or is it a opportunity for parents to teach children how these things work early on?
It’s a tricky subject for me, as a 22 year old male with no kids, to truly talk about in depth. But it’s a question that has always interested me.