So I woke up this morning and loaded up my laptop to check my emails. This, in itself, is not uncommon. My homepage for my internet is yahoo - as I use yahoo for my emails, I figure this makes sense. While on the homepage, I checked out the four headlines they had running at the moment, and one was concerning a woman who's son ran up a £1000 bill on his xbox. I've sen the story on the gaming site I often visit (www.escapistmagazine.com), but like to check out how non-gaming media covers stories like this. Foolishly, I clicked it.
You can read the article for yourself: http://uk.videogames.games.yahoo.com/blog/article/22696/xbox-boy-buys-big-on-mums-card.html.
The article makes pretty standard reading: The woman put her card details onto the xbox so her son could use Xbox Live, a service that allows you to play games with your friends online. Her son, however, brought various other items for use in-game, eventually culminating in this huge bill.
I've seen plenty of stories like this before - it's nothing new. However, it was the woman's comments that really ruffled my feathers. I quote:
“It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done.”
“It is impossible to monitor everything your children do. These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people.”
This woman is, to be perfectly frank, an idiot. Granted, you can't keep your eyes on everything your children do. However, the complaints that there is no age verification is simply not true. The putting in of your card details counts as age verification, as Microsoft are assuming that, if you're old enough to have said card, then you're old enough to take responcibility. There are no age checks on amazon, because it stores your card details. This is the same thing, with the exception that one is done on a computer, one of the xbox.
Secondly, the mother should have told her son that he was to check with her before purchasing anything else. You can't watch your children all of the time, but you can talk with them about limits, or at least check up on them. To blame some scary grey box is stupidity in its highest form. To quote Peter Griffin, "Maybe parents need to take more responsibility for what shows their kids watch instead of blaming the shows themselves ... Yeah" It's the same principle with games.
Thirdly, there are other options to using your card; the main one being that you can buy codes for 1 year's xbox live subscription. They're cheaper, and, more importantly, mean that you don't have to put in card details. Granted, the woman may not have known about these, but I still feel it's a point worth making.
Lastly, and this is the most important point, the article points out that there are clear instructions for setting up parental control on the xbox. The mother should definately have looked at these. Parents seem all too willing to ignore ways in which they can monitor safety about children and technology without hovering over their shoulder. The kid was 11 for God's sake, she should have checked out ways to keep, not only her bank balance, but him, safe. I felt really upset when the article reported how he didn't want his xobx anymore. It was clearly something he enjoyed, but because no boundaries had been set/his mother hadn't looked over what he was doing, he'd been made to feel like the bad guy.
Anyway, I'm ranting. I said it would be a rant, and it turned into one. I'll finish it there.