Bill hits $1250 after child's unmonitored tablet use

By Jane Nixon

Nick Bolster says he should have monitored his son's activity on the tablet. Photo / Doug Sherring
Nick Bolster says he should have monitored his son's activity on the tablet. Photo / Doug Sherring

A six-year-old racked up a credit card bill of more than $1,200 in just two days, playing games on his parents' tablet.

Auckland parents Nick Bolster and Michaela Dumper were stunned when they got a call from their bank alerting them to an unusually high number of transactions on a credit card over 48 hours.

Their son Toby had unknowingly spent $1,250 on in-app purchases on Google Play with more than 60 separate transactions.

The Pt Chevalier couple say their experience is a warning for parents about monitoring their children's tablet use these school holidays.

Bolster says Toby has used the tablet "independently" for the past 12 months. "I guess there's some naivety on my part. I've let him run with it rather than monitor his use."

He does not blame Google but believes the cheaper apps are designed to make money by offering in-app purchases. Many apps can be downloaded at no cost but players are lured into spending money to advance in games.

Toby made about 60 transactions over two hours in total, Bolster says.

The mistake was made primarily because the password request had been disabled.

"He either figured out the password or the password request was somehow disabled. I have no idea how that happened."

Bolster has received a prompt reply after emailing Google details of the boy's mistake.

"I got a fairly human response. They are not obliged to refund the transactions but they are looking into it and have asked me to send though the transaction numbers."

He says Toby is too young to understand the gravity of what he's done. "$24.99 means nothing to a 6-year-old, let alone $24.99 times 10."

"It's a life-defining thing, how we handle this as a family.

"I wasn't casual with him, but he did tell me the truth when I asked him and he knew he'd done something wrong."

Meanwhile, the password protection is back on and Dumper says there will be new rules about how much Toby can use the tablet.

- Herald on Sunday

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