SINGAPORE – A 30-year old mum who referred to herself as Ms Wang got the surprise of her life after she received her mobile phone bill for July. Her 5-year old daughter had managed to spend ¥1,500 (S$295) in a single month without actually knowing it.
As reported by Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao, the single mum had gotten a text, alerting her of the rather large charge. According to Ms Wang, her young daughter’s tablet didn’t even have a mobile card installed, nor was she asked for a password or authentication code to make any purchase.
She was in the belief that she had child-proofed the gadget, which was only connected to their home wifi and had no sim card to make any charges to, but she was wrong.
At first, she thought that it was her telecommunications company, StarHub, only to find out that it was truly her child that had made all these buys. Her daughter managed to make over 200 in-app purchases on the widely popular gaming app, Roblox, which cost approximately ¥5 to ¥8 each. This converts to about S$1 to S$1.5 per every consumption.
The game allows players to adopt digital pets, build virtual houses, complete digital tasks and engage with other players, most of which are between the ages of 5 and 16.
The mum explained to Lianhe Wanbao, “My daughter did not understand what was going on. The purchases just went through with a few taps on the iPad. She wasn’t aware that she had spent so much money,” given that the daughter was spending the game’s virtual currency not realizing that she had to pay for it with real money.
Ms Wang shared that she was puzzled since most phones have prompts, like when she needs to top up the account of her domestic helper’s mobile phone line. “What I can’t figure out is that when I help the maid buy credits on the mobile app and ask her to call home, she needs to scan her face or enter the verification code to make the payment.”
She added, “I reached out to the customer service staff from both StarHub and Apple. But I still don’t understand where the problem lies.”
In the end, she hopes that what happened to her and her child will remind other parents to be more careful about their children’s online consumption when they are playing games or using the internet.
The report also shared that the telecommunications company has since contacted Ms Wang to help her with the problem. /TISG
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