Leaving your credit card unattended may have severe financial consequences for your family if a young gamer obtains it.
Children do not have the same level of financial control as adults. They may not even realize they are spending actual money. Without realizing it, a youngster obsessed with a game may spend thousands of dollars and deplete their parents’ bank account.
What are children purchasing in games, and what can you do to protect your money from rising e-sports stars?
Where game developers make money
Some parents believe their financial obligations stop once they purchase a game. This misunderstanding may have cost them a fortune. Numerous game creators do not receive money from the game itself. Certain games are even free to download but include a slew of additional features. Therefore, what can gamers spend their actual money on in a virtual world?
In a virtual economy, in-game currencies function like dollars or euros do in the real world. You can never have too much money in games. You may, however, swap small or large amounts of real money for virtual currency at any moment. With just a few clicks, you can fund your gaming account and empty your bank account.
Additionally, a variety of weapons, armor, and other equipment—even simply clothes for the player’s avatar—are available for purchase. Teenagers purchase these things to enhance the performance of their characters or to express themselves. Additionally, some products have a high price tag. Consider the Echoing Fury mace from Diablo III, which sells for $14,000.
A particular kind of in-game object is worth mentioning here: loot boxes, which are reward packages holding a random assortment of virtual things. They function similarly to lottery tickets in a game: Players purchase boxes with no idea what they will find inside—they may contain game-changing goods or just some poor customizing choices. Loot boxes are often referred to differently by game creators. For instance, FIFA players are classified as “packs.” Packs may include Premier League superstars such as Messi and Ronaldo, as well as everyday players from small-town teams. Of course, the latter is much more likely.
As is the case in real life, the path to fame and wealth may be difficult to navigate in a game. That is why players who do not want to spend hours developing their characters the hard way seek shortcuts and purchase boosters, time-savers, or temporary optimizers that provide a competitive advantage. For instance, boosters may immediately enhance a character’s strength and agility, as well as attract more valuable in-game treasure.
Banners that take up half the screen or video clips that constantly interrupt your session are an annoyance that we are all familiar with, even those of us who are not gamers. Given that developers earn money from advertising, they often offer consumers the straightforward option of paying a specific amount of money to remove the advertisements. This generally permanently disables advertisements, although in certain instances, players must pay a monthly membership fee to keep advertising at bay.
Obstacles and laws
While honest producers—and they do exist—offer their goods without attempting to influence players, many others use a range of psychological tricks to get gamers to spend.
Some less ethical video game creators use the same strategies as casino operators. They encourage players to try their luck and win a one-of-a-kind gift in a loot box, even though the odds of obtaining the desired item are almost nil. This kind of deception causes players to spend more money, more often, in the hope of winning the reward they want. Even adult gamers are often sucked in.
Certain creators purposefully subject players to a plethora of repetitive and boring chores to advance their characters and the game. When this occurs, there is almost always an icon near the progress bar that players may click to purchase a booster.
In certain instances, the only way to win is to purchase things. Regardless of how skilled a youngster is at a game, for example, they may quickly be surpassed by anybody possessing a valuable item. This places additional pressure on unfortunate gamers to purchase the same item. The gaming community refers to this strategy as “pay-to-win.”
Developers have a slew of other gimmicks up their sleeves. For instance, app developers may offer games at a set price and then charge a subscription fee for previously bought material or even the ability to continue playing the game.
Numerous experts have long expressed concern about the present state of things. For instance, the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom has stated that loot boxes are predisposing children to gambling addiction. The United States is starting to require games containing loot boxes to have an 18+ rating, while Japan has outlawed a variant known as “complete gacha.” While China, the Netherlands, and Belgium have enacted legislation prohibiting loot boxes, the gimmick remains uncontrolled in several countries. If your kid’s favorite game continually prompts them to purchase boxes containing random rewards, take action and read our suggestions for safeguarding yourself and your youngster.
How to handle in-game purchases
Once you understand what adolescents spend their money on in virtual games, you’ll be able to communicate effectively with your youngster. All that remains is to determine how to safeguard them and prevent them from squandering money—without jeopardizing their confidence.
Eliminate games entirely
The most extreme, but least successful, course of action is to prohibit an adolescent from playing any games. If you take that step, you’re almost certain to sour the connection and teach your kid to be sneaky. The measure’s utility remains an open issue. Teenagers who are confined to a room may play games at their friends’ homes, spy through their parents’ phones and computers for passwords, and may begin using a second phone or devise other schemes.
Is the fight worth it? After all, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with gaming. Gaming is a hobby that can help children socialize, learn about modern technology, and even contemplate their future careers.
Today’s youthful gamers are self-taught in programming languages and are developing their own games. Consider a child glued to a screen in the next room, slaying monsters that could grow up to be the CEO of a major IT company!
Restrict access to your funds
Simply because your kid enjoys gaming does not mean they will waste your money. However, as a precaution, we suggest avoiding credit cards and payment-capable phones (and keeping them out of sight). Additionally, configure a short timeout for your smartphone’s screen lock and disable notifications with payment confirmation codes so they do not appear on your lock screen.
Create a child account
Numerous digital distribution systems, such as the PlayStation Store and the Xbox Games Store, allow for the creation of kid accounts. Not only do they include basic parental controls such as a screen time limit and the ability to block inappropriate and mature content, but they also include the ability to disable all purchases or set a spending limit. If your adolescent likes to play smartphone games, for instance, block in-app purchases through an Apple or Google family account.
Communicate with your kid
It’s critical to maintain communication with your children so that you don’t feel compelled to conceal money from them. Attempt to comprehend what they’re asking for; converse with them about their favorite games; ascertain their desires and what they’d want to get. Maintaining contact with your adolescent demonstrates that you really care about their interests and take them seriously. This approach will assist you in developing a trusting relationship with your teen and will enable you to suggest far more interesting ways to spend money outside of the game.
Depending on your budget, you may choose real-world purchases rather than virtual ones. It’s very simple to convince your child that a new gaming mouse or headphones would be a better investment than a skin pack and booster.
Teach schoolchildren financial literacy
Teach your kid how to manage their own money by creating a customized card for them and loading it with modest amounts of money. If you haven’t started yet, this is an excellent time to begin. Allow your teen to choose how to spend it. The sooner a kid understands that spending money on games means foregoing concert tickets or new shoes, the sooner they will learn to budget and spend money properly.
Dealing with the consequences
What should you do if a young gamer has already incurred a debt to you?
- Contact your bank and request that the transaction be canceled. Getting your money back is contingent on a variety of variables, one of which being your response time;
- Contact the game’s support and request a refund. Developers are often ready to go above and above to avoid jeopardizing their reputation for an amount that is a drop in the bucket compared to their overall income;
- Be sure to indicate that the card was used without your consent by the child. There is a possibility that they will refund the money, or at least a portion of it.
How to monitor a schoolchild’s internet activities
Not to be overlooked is the fact that in-game transactions are not the sole source of worry. Demonstrate an interest in your child’s online activities other than gaming. Inquire about the websites they frequent and the people they communicate with. Teach them the fundamentals of security: demonstrate how scammers typically operate, how to deal with bullying, and how to protect gaming accounts from cybercriminals.
Install Mobicip to help your kids learn the fundamentals of network security and protect them from needless danger. Our service enables parents to monitor their children’s internet activities and also includes advice from child psychologists on how to communicate with and understand their adolescents.