Parenting Negligence Around Child’s Online Gaming Habits Leads to Huge Losses

A recent news report by India Today highlights how no checks in place for in-app purchases and parent negligence over a seven-year-old child’s usage of mobile phones and gaming apps lead to a huge bill of Rs. 1.33 Lakhs. What is even more emotionally and financially draining is that the father- Muhammad Mutaza had to sell the family car to pay the bill. Such high purchasing capacity has been seen in high-end games, but these have also become evident in kid’s games as well recently.

The incident is from North Wales, UK, but this is a learning for parents all across the globe. Today, kids and adults both have high addiction to online games and without proper check on the gaming habits, this skill or pastime can turn into an addiction that can prove extensively harmful for not just the child but also for the entire family.

Parenting Negligence Around Child’s Online Gaming Habits Leads to Huge Losses

In-app Purchases: A Rising Concern for Parents

The In-app purchases in several gaming apps meant for kids allow heavy purchases that can go up to Lakhs and as outlined by Muhammad Mataza, it is rather bizarre how a gaming app meant for kids can have such huge purchase limits. At first, Muhammad was taken aback and thought it was a fraud, but with further exploration, it was revealed that the transactions had been made. However, after a complaint registration with Apple, Muhammad got a small refund of £207 i.e., approximately Rs 21,000.

Such instances help us understand why awareness about the usage and concerns around online gaming is the need of the hour. With informed decisions, one can prevent such huge losses from occurring.

The Founder of Social Media Matters, Amitabh Kumar who has been closely working on analysing, understanding and minimizing social media addiction amongst youth by spreading awareness amongst parents, adds, “Online gaming has increased massively in the last few years, especially as we spend most of our time indoors due to lockdown. One of the important features to be aware about is ‘in game purchases’. Digital parents need to ensure that their children are aware about it, and also place parental locks to ensure that no unintentional purchases are made by the child.”

How Can Parents Prevent Such Instances?

To prevent such instances from occurring here are few things that can be done-
  • As parents stay informed about social media and technological updates: In the current digital world, your child is very close to the digital pool of information and entertainment. Hence, it is important that you also upgrade your knowledge base about such advancements through expert guidance on platforms such as Social Media Matters. Once you know about how to use these apps and ways of preventing misuse of the apps by your child, you can create a safe social media usage ecosystem for your kid.
  • Small practices make huge differences: Limiting your child’s screen time, use of child lock on mobile phones, keeping a check on the internet usage, are some very small steps that can help in creating huge differences in your child’s life. This may seem restrictive to your child at first but in the long run, it will help in shaping a safer and better future for your child.
  • Keep your passwords secure: Do not share your banking or phone passwords with anyone, not even your child, especially an adolescent. This is also a way of making your child learn about the need for data privacy from a very young age.
While social media and gaming app usage is on the rise, we must not forget that data thefts and data misuse are also a serious concern that arises from it. Hence, the key is to keep yourself informed and educated. Better safe than sorry!
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