I look at my credit card account and say out loud, “no.” Something is not right. “No. No. No!” I start looking closer at the charges. A charge for a game? “Oh right, I know my daughter has that one, but wait....it was free.” “In-App purchases” is what I discover after calling the 1-800 number. I won’t go into brands and companies that create chaos in my life, but I will disclose I had set up “ask before you buy” and I should be notified when ANY purchase is made.
To make a long story short... a “long phone call later” story short.... I was reimbursed around $700 of unapproved purchases. Yes 700, and almost all of it within one month. Before you assume my kids are inconsiderate brats, let me explain. My daughter had told me her iPad was acting weird. It is cracked and old and I thought it was just “glitching.” Apparently, it is more like “hacked.” While she would play games, it would take over and buy in app gems and packages.
So this takes me to the love and hate relationship with technology. My master’s degree is in Educational Technology, so I appreciate and realize the potential technology provides us. Our children need to learn to utilize it in responsible ways. I grow tired of keeping up with how to restrict, protect, and regulate my children’s use of the internet, however, the less parents know the less we are in control.
I have daydreamed about going off grid, no connection, no social media, separated from that world. Although, that might work for me someday in retirement, it is not what is best for my children. They must learn digital citizenship and literacy. If they do not, they will be more susceptible to fraud and predators. It is not going away and if I unplug my children completely, it is a disservice to their education. I can’t place them in a bubble where they will be safe from the world of technology. Let me put it this way – we as parents are responsible for keeping them out of a bubble. The bubble of “google search” and social media. It is our responsibility to show them how to find primary sources (original resources) online and not just what is given to them through a feed. How to curate their own content and find accurate answers to their questions. There are amazing games, websites, and resources which provide them opportunities we never had.
In the meantime, as a parent I will continue to endure the endless user names, passwords, logins, and applications that will help me locate, track, and watch over what my children are doing online. We have to do the best we can. Learn how the parental controls work. Learn how to be notified if a website is accessed and restrict access to content (even if it makes it inconvenient for you to watch a rated-R movie). I do the best I can, I trust my children when they tell me “I didn’t mean to buy it.” The dark side of technology has learned to get around them and get into our accounts. It will continue so I must be diligent to the point of irony. Meaning, I have to create my own tech bubble while teaching them to stay out of an information bubble. Also, the truth of it is, sometimes my children are the brats and they get around my password to buy it! That’s a whole other article.