There's also the embarrassment factor. For some reason, parents aren't crazy about admitting that their 12-year-old blew a year's worth of car payments on outfits for their video game character. You're probably already judging these people as negligent, but stop and think. How many online services have stored your credit card info so that you don't have to type it every time? Well, if you have a child in the house who doesn't fully grasp the concepts of money or morality, you're sitting on a ticking time bomb.
"I approved the first charge. It was for the game," says Courtney. "But then he kept buying ... It didn't even ask for that security number on the back. All you had to do was click, and it went through." A few thousand dollars' worth of clicks, in fact.
"My son and his friends bought $1,600 worth of games on Steam," says Carrie. "They weren't all for him. He would buy copies for his friends, and then all the add-ons, which cost even more. I check my credit card once a week. I didn't get any alerts, so I didn't know anything was wrong until I checked the next Friday and I saw all of these charges."
Ah, the era of seamless online commerce. Who wants to jump through a bunch of annoying hoops with every purchase? But if you've got a kid in the house with access to all of the devices, that means all that's stopping them is their own undeveloped moral compass. "The only barrier there was a button you need to check saying, 'Are you 18 years or older?'" says Madison. "That was it." Has any child in history ever clicked "No" on that question? We'd honestly like to know.
But hey, don't services offer to send purchase confirmation messages precisely for this reason? They sure do. Just ask Amanda. "We were supposed to get email messages about each purchase so that we knew what was bought. But [my son] logged onto my Gmail and deleted those messages."
Again, remember as you read this that we need children to continue the species. We don't intend for these anecdotes to act as birth control, though we realize they probably will.