WATCH OUT FOR SHARKS!
Let me just start off by saying, I love my son. My smart, loving, kind-hearted nine year old boy. The child that embodies the best (and often the most frustrating) qualities of my husband and I both. Stubborn is a good trait right?! With that said, isn’t it amazing how incredibly savvy our children are with technology. Heck…my child had to teach me how to create a Google doc!!
So let me familiarize you with the world of Sharks. Yes, that’s right. Sharks. Not the kind that physically bite your limbs off. Rather, the kind that take a big chomping bite out of your bank account. What am I talking about? Let me explain...
One evening, I was lying down at bedtime with said loving child to talk about every possible thing that happened in the course of his entire day. Because that’s what we as parents love to do the most when it’s after 8:00 at night, after we have asked, in every possible scenario, “How was your day/what was the best part of your day” ALL. DAY. LONG. only to get an answer of “it was fine” or “nothing happened.” Fast forward to “you need to go to sleep” followed by the standard response of “Oh mom, I forgot to tell you…(fill in any random thought here).” About 10 minutes into this riveting lesson on snails, I heard my husband yell “WTH” from downstairs. He came running up the stairs, turned on the light and said that he was checking our bank account and there were charges from iTunes in the amounts of $20, $50, $30 and oh look…there’s another $20. See where I’m going with this? When my husband asked my son what “Sharks” was, we learned that it was an app, a game that my son had on his phone.
Let me digress for just a second. My son has my old iPhone5 for playing games and listening to music only. He is NOT allowed to make phone calls or purchase games. Not for $1.99, not even for $.99 without our permission. He’s always been trustworthy in that regard, so let’s get back to the story in progress. We asked him what those huge charges were for Sharks (meaning waaaayyyy more than $1.99), PER SHARK!!! He said that every time he bought a shark, his sharks got bigger, but he didn’t think we would find out about it. He didn’t think we’d find out about it?! I guess the bright side to that statement is at least he was honest. In complete disbelief, I asked him where on God’s green earth did he think that money was coming from. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and I asked him if he thought it was fake money. His response…wait for it…”I knew it was real money. I thought it was coming out of MY bank account.” “My” as in his. His bank account. The nine year old child with no job. That bank account. Seriously, how can such a smart child be so brainless? So as the conversation went on, so did the increasing amount of charges. There was a total of $170 in Shark charges.
My husband went right downstairs to get on the phone with Apple to see if they could rescind the charges. (1)During this time I told my son as a consequence to his actions, he was going to pay us back for every penny spent on those games and he wasn’t getting his phone back until it was all paid off. That meant chore money, birthday money, Christmas money, whatever. He was all upset because he said it would take him “twenty years” (cue the drama) to pay that back. Well then, so be it. Apple was generous enough to credit us back for the $277 our son charged to iTunes. Did you catch that? $277 NOT $170. Yup, the gal from Apple found some additional charges from a few weeks earlier.
So, we all learned a very stressful life lesson. Our son learned the next morning that because Apple gave us a credit of that money, he no longer had to pay us back. He did however painfully learn that he lost his phone for over a month. We as parents learned that we need to make sure all of the apps on our child’s phone are secure and in-app purchasing is turned off. Technology is an incredibly powerful tool that can be devastating in the wrong little hands. I’m so thankful to companies like Apple who understand children make mistakes and are willing to credit us for our children’s purchases from “their own” imaginary bank accounts and more importantly to companies like BugFreeNet, whose priority is to help those of us, parents of much more technologically savvy children, set up all of the proper securities on our phones and home computers before accidents happen and help put our children’s virtual safety first.
Guest Blogger: Shannon Mercado
(Sorry, kids. Did this site come up on Google instead of a real boobies web site? Your parents might want you to wait and see real boobies, later on. When you're ready. Instead of online boobies, while they're not home. There are better things to look at online - try coolmathgames.com.)
The rest of this blog is for the grownups.
Now that we have really good home network security set up, I sometimes like to google things just to see what comes up. We can google anything, and it's all PG-rated. I like "boobies" the best. It's a search term that our kids started with, when they were first getting curious about forbidden web sites. Yes, your kids have done it too.
If you do that in my house, this is what you will see:
Photo from Wikipedia
What do you see when you do it in your house?
Yep, we used to see that too.
If you're not especially fond of online boobies, or if you'd rather not share them with your children - let me share our favorite network security trick. It's free, or cheap. It's fast, and it's easy. It's called OpenDNS.
OpenDNS is not software. It's a setting change that you make, either on your computer or in your router (the place that sends out your wireless internet signal all over your house). If this is too confusing already, we've made a video showing how we do it.
To set up your account, only name, email address and country are required. OpenDNS will also request a referral source - don't forget to fill in bugfreenet.com!
Once you have established your new account, there are a few more steps to getting your network security up and running. Read through the tutorials, contact us for assistance, or wait for the next installment of the OpenDNS series on the Bug Free Mom blog! Happy networking!
If you have teenagers, then you probably are too.
You been there? One over-tired, over-heated conversation goes too far, and your angriest, fastest-growing child decides to tell you and your husband what he's always thought, but finally had to say. You are ridiculous idiots.
You know it's not the end of the world. You know you could probably elevate yourselves back to The Best Parents in the World status with a pony or a Playstation or a change in the weather, but it does hurt for about five minutes, because we're all really trying our best. And we're all so tired. Trying to fit in the homework nannying and the flu shots and the grocery shopping and all the extra stuff that comes up every day. It's a lot. So we gotta do what we gotta do.
Parents gotta stick together.
I got a call from my friend Shannon today on speaker phone, on the way to pick up the kids from school (including the angry ones). That is our social time - speaker phone on the run.
She was calling me back to rescue me from a slightly-stressed out voicemail I had left her earlier. At 1pm, I had both an IM and a phone call at the same time. "Did you finish the report I asked for yet?" said the IM. "Your after-school care payment was due yesterday," said the phone. "You're late."
I sent off a link quickly to the IM sender and started to apologize to the phone. "I didn't set up a reminder, so I completely forgot. I'm so sorry. I'll log in and pay now."
"There is a paper reminder in your file," said the phone sternly.
"I have a FILE?" I asked blankly.
"It's on the table where you sign your children out. Every week." The phone was not amused that I had also forgotten about the file. I wasn't feeling my age or my pay rate at this point.
"I am so sorry. I do remember the file. I'll log in and pay now." I hung up the phone and immediately called Shannon in a panic to find out if she knew the password to the payment system.
By the time Shannon called me back, she was laughing. "Did you know about the file?" I asked. "I can't believe I lost the password and I was too scared to call her back!"
"I never remember," she admitted. Her son has been in the same program for longer than my kids have. Like me, she has multiple clients, multiple mouths to feed, and aging parents and grandparents who hope to hear from her and maybe see her once in a while. She's busy. If we get a reminder that isn't digital and automated, it should probably be dangled from a rope and shoot BBs at our face. Preferably after 7am.
Everyone needs someone they can trust.
So how does this translate to Bug Free Net? Basically, we want to be that backup for you. We know you're going through all kinds of stuff with pre-teens and teenagers. We are too. Seriously.
Send us your setup questions. Walk us through your cable provider troubleshooting struggles, or ask us the impact that it might have on your parental control options to switch to AT&T. That is exactly why we're here. We are parents just like you, and if there is one thing in your day that we can simplify, we're happy to help.
We know you're busy. We know you're tired. We are too.
Just ask my 7 year-old, who received a plate of toast and a jar of strawberry jelly from me this morning at 7am. What I thought was jelly, anyway.
"YAY! Cherries!" I heard as I was turning to get coffee. I peeked through blurry eyes and realized he was clutching a small jar of maraschino cherries in his chubby hands. "I get cherries with my toast!"
"No, you don't," I said, gently prying the jar from his little fingers. "That's not breakfast."
"Yes I do. You GAVE them to me," he said, his eyes shining happily.
"Well, you should know better. I am a ridiculous idiot."