Saturday, 9 February 2013

A month of frugality: Lock up your passwords

I have been hacked! By my own son. He stole my iTunes password and got himself a new App. He told me the App was free. That was Wednesday.

I woke up this morning to discover I had 19 new iTunes bills. They added up to a large debt. I was shocked and thought it must be some crazy mistake. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the 'free' App my son had downloaded had 'in App' purchases and he had wracked up this huge bill. In two days.

He says he didn't know it was real money. He has no concept of just how many times he bought himself some 'essential' tool for the game. He doesn't get it at all really. He doesn't get that a sheepish "sorry" doesn't really cut it in this case.

Horrified, on so many levels, I began what will be a very long process of getting a refund. I started at the local Apple store, got fobbed off to a website, posted a complaint, got a call back from a computer that managed to tell me that the call centre was closed until Monday. I will be pursuing the issue with the energy of a dog at a bone. It is disgusting that this is even possible. There is absolutely nothing 'free' about this App.

I bet there are many people in the exact same position as me.

This situation has highlighted some major flaws in my online security. I have deleted the game, changed my password, and confiscated his iPod, so in the short term, I have solved the problem. I also need to change the settings on his iPod to disallow 'in app' purchases and get him off my iTunes log in.

I simply do not know what to do to adequately punish my son; to help him to understand the value of money. To teach him that a virtual 'gem' in a virtual world is NOT a good way to spend real life money.

This is the madness of the world we are now living in. You can go broke buying stuff that doesn't actually exist. What chance does a young boy have of understanding that?


Has this happened to you? How do you think you would solve this dilemma?

12 comments:

Sarah said...

Our girls have almost all fallen into this trap at some stage in their journey of being ipod touch owners. I'm stuck between not letting them know the password, shutting down in-app purchases and reviewing every app they want with wondering how I teach them to see value in what they spend. If we put barriers in place we arent really teaching them a lesson, we are making them sit on the outside. Sometimes I think that makes them want something more...
I met a woman the other day who is a trainer around the online world for kids - when I remember her name Ill message you x

Charis Sharpe said...

It must be almost impossibly difficult to get children to understand. I'm 35 and to be totally honest have to curb myself buying things online.. it's in a foreign currency & it comes out of Paypal.. it doesn't feel like I'm really spending money!

Mama of 2 boys said...

Oh my goodness MM, just where do you start, indeed!? Much like yourself, I would have had no idea about any of this kind of thing, but was warned by a friend not to have my credit card linked to iTunes. I, of course, DO have my credit card linked to iTunes, but apparently the best way around it (if you have small people who like to play games on your iPad etc...) is to only use iTunes gift cards to purchase apps/music. That way only a limited amount can even possibly be spent, whether it's accidental or intentional. To someone who has not yet introduced her kids to this world of virtual 'purchasing', I wondered how necessary this action was. After reading your experience here, I'm thinking it's VERY necessary.
It is a MAD world that is for sure.
xo

Lisa McHugh said...

My 11 & 13 year olds have iTunes cards attached to their own iTunes accounts on their iPods which don't need my password. They have to work for their iTunes cards, too, so they can see how much effort is in the earning of money compared to how easy it can disappear online.This has been a great way for them to realise how much they can play with & they quickly learn how fast their iTunes card amounts go on virtual nothingness. Mind you, my kids are older & are only really starting to get the concept that money doesn't grow on trees - especially when it's their own. Good luck with it!

nisabell said...

My 4 year old on my husbands tablet made an in app purchase, just one and it was valued at nearly $1000- a kids game designed for her age group, after we were stunned into silence we were able to get our money back by proving her age (birth certificate) and they did it very quickly but what we couldn't understand was why they would have something like that so accessible... You can bet all of our security settings have over gone a major increase.

Carli (Tiny Savages) said...

My son's only four and when I try explaining there's no money for another ipad game, he offers to go and get my wallet. How they learn the value of money in a digital world I have no idea, but a friend was successful with iTunes refunding some money when her son did a similar thing?

Anecdotal Anna said...

Ouch. I had my first experience of this, well actually it was my poor Mother-in-law. My 5 year old son (who knows we do not allow in-app purchases) was kindly allowed access to her iPad. Same thing, he asked for permission to get a FREE game and his Nanna allowed it. Then the email for the in-app purchases came the next day.

I was confused when MIL told me as I didn't think it was possible without passwords, the only difference was I had fortuitously disabled in-app purchases on all my devices.

Needless to say next time I had access to MIL's iPad I did the same for her.

Emily said...

Oh no! And in the month of frugality, no less.

I struggle to make my little one understand the value of money when it comes to real life, physical things that she can see and touch. Virtual things? No idea. She's too young now, but I'm sure it's something I'll have to work out very quickly.

Good luck. I'll definitely be checking back to read the suggestions!

Coal Valley View said...

I feel for you because I know the big corporates will just fob your very legitimate complaint off as "well it is your responsibility since it's your phone etc etc". Our kids don't have iPods but we let the kids use our iPhones to play games. If it was my kids that racked up a Bill, I probably would let the first incident slide if I hadn't told them they had to ask me to download Apps first. But if it happened again, I would ban them using it for a while, which would be a huge punishment to them. I think you've done enough. Is this your eldest boy? Our kids always have to ask if they want to download a FREE App and they know they aren't allowed to download anything that costs money. We also have credit card linked to iTunes because it makes life soooooo much easier. I hate the way everything is so accessible to kids these days - it makes our job monitoring everything really really hard! Mel x

Petra said...

Oh no, hope you get your money back! Can you take it off his pocket money or at least part of it? That always works for Dennis and he is starting to have a pretty good idea of the worth of money (at least in his little world). I have got a lot of stuff disabled on Dennis iPod and any new games mostly get put on through iTunes on the computer - it keeps me vaguely in control of what is on his iPod.

Maxabella said...

OMG, that's bad. x

Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue said...

I have a friend who did get some money back in a similar circumstance, she gave me the heads up on just using vouchers so you can't get into trouble. We hardly ever purchase anything so this is a perfect solution. My 4 year old bought a car on eBay once, just pressed buy it now when I wasn't looking, got out of it fortunately. Good luck. Punishment, he probably has some idea from your look of horror. The value of money doesn't really hit home until a little later, if you keep talking about it they eventually get it.

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