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