You may have heard horror stories of parents finding out that their child had unknowingly used their phone or online shopping account to make purchases, racking up a hefty bill along the way. In July, it was reported in Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao that one woman in Singapore was shocked to find that her five-year-old daughter had racked up a $1,500 phone bill within a month.
The single mum in her 30s thought she had ‘child-proofed’ her iPad to prevent such online spending, the paper reported. With the device connected to the Wifi network at home, as well as the absence of a SIM card, the expenses puzzled the woman.
She initially thought that there was a mix-up in her StarHub bill, but it turned out that her daughter had made over 200 in-app purchases on an online game platform called Roblox.
Roblox, which allows users to build virtual houses, adopt digital pets and interact with other players, is popular with children under 16. Records also showed that amounts between $5 and $8 were spent on each transaction.
“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,” the woman told the Chinese daily.
Her daughter had unwittingly splurged on various in-game items using the game’s virtual currency.
Referencing how verification prompts had popped up whenever she topped up the value of her domestic helper’s mobile phone line, the mum questioned why she didn’t encounter the same safety process when her child tapped on purchases in the game.
“I reached out to the customer service staff from both StarHub and Apple. But I still don’t understand where the problem lies.”
She also hopes that her experience will remind other parents to be more vigilant about their children’s online shopping habits. The telco said it has contacted the woman to offer assistance.