You know how you read about those naughty, feverish kids who have racked up gaming bills in the hundreds and you think: How stupid must your parents be?  Where were the adults when this was happening? Quick, call DoCS. Serves them right for not monitoring their child’s iPad activity, now pay up suckers!

Allow me to take off my righteous hat and to hang my head in deep, deep shame. My chin is practically touching my toes.

One day, in the very distant future, I might even be able to laugh about this. “Family and friends, thanks for joining us to celebrate our sons’ 21st. He has always been the most awesome of kids … except for that time he racked up a $12,000 iTunes debt.

(Pause for nervous laughter).

Yes, you read right. In a matter of days, my nine year old child was able to log on to iTunes and buy gems (not even real ones!), that would drain my credit card and cause a backlog in Coles as I stood there with an overflowing trolley and a credit card that that was as useful as Monopoly money.

As the ice cream melted in the trolley, so did any hope of having the case of the now-useless credit card being handled by the banks’ fraud department. The call to the bank was heartbreaking. Nope, my card had not been skimmed, that was wishful thinking. The awful truth was a child, in my house, on my iPad, was playing a game that required in-app purchases. I repeat:  it cost $12,000 to slay some stupid dragons.

In fairness to him, he didn’t know he was dealing with actual money. He gets to spend a couple of bucks at the canteen, now he was splurging like a Kardashian topping up his gem pool $159 a go.  Who plays and pays that kind of money non-accidently? The rich kids of Instagram maybe, but when my plane is in the workshop my kids fly coach, if you get my drift.

I could only blame myself for allowing this to happen, and in a desperate phone call to iTunes I lay it all on the line. I may have said: “Give me my $12,000 back and this child gets to live…”

On the other end of the line, the iTune staff member assigned to my case was sympathetic, but casually unfazed. This happens a lot, I was told, (sigh, relief), just not by $12,000! She logged the case an “accidental purchase” and gave me a stern talking to about to manage the security on the device.

In 2014, Apple was ordered to pay back $32.5m for accidental in-app purchases, presumably made by kids while their parents assumed they were doing Mathletics homework.  We talk about adults losing time and shitloads on money in casinos, but geez, this online gaming/in-app purchases business for kids is really no better.

It took two weeks for the money to be returned, by which time I cancelled my credit card, the iTunes password set to something so complex and long I actually don’t remember what it is, and I signed up all three of my kids to afterschool activities so they don’t have a spare minute to slay any more dragons.

FYI: Said child has been banned for playing ANY games on ANY computer until his 21st birthday.


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