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New icon warning parents children can spend cash while playing video games

Pan European Game Information (Pegi) announced that video games will include a warning icon if they offer in-games purchases. This will inform parents that the game contains in-app purchases.

The icon is a hand holding a credit card

This icon will appear alongside other symbols like age limit, whether a game includes content like sex, drugs, and violence.

Many video game makers make their profit through in-game purchases. For instance, Fortnite which is highly popular among children is free to play but their main revenue stream comes from in-game purchases.

 

A warning sign like this will be a good indication for parents whether their children should be allowed to play a particular game or not. This information will be made available at the time of purchase so parents can decide how they would monitor/limit their child’s spending.

Some facts – survey conducted by IPSOS showed that :

  • 40% of parents whose children were playing video games were allowed in-game purchases as long as it is within the limit given to them.
  •  2 in 5 parents are aware their child pays real-world money for in-game item
  • 8 in 10 parents have an agreement in place with their children about their spending – ranging from asking permission before each purchase, setting a spending limit
  • 2% of parents did not monitor their child’s spending

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Problems with in-game items :

  • Sometimes children can go overboard with their spending. Last year an 11 year old spent £6000 unknowingly on in-game items. 
  • Parents are having to negotiate chores with children in exchange for in-game purchases. This is not necessarily  bad as it can motivate a child to do some housework or other activities.
  • In 2013, Apple was sued over the ease at which children can make app purchases without their parents knowledge. 
  • The ‘Lootbox’ mechanism which is a type of in-game purchases is criticised to promote gambling in children. Loot box is like a scratch-off card that when you open you get a little prize in it. For instance, by spending $20 the first time you get a $40 voucher, and then you think I will spend another $5 hoping to get another prize. This continues and children can easily fall into this trap of spending

 

Before this parents would spend $40 for a video game and that would be the end of it. Now days it seems like video games are available for free to download and once a player is hooked they spend even more cash on buying in-game items.

 

If you are aware your child is playing a game that allows them to make in-game purchases then set a budget and monitor their spending. Allow them to make a purchase only after a certain activity is completed. For instance, achieving a certain grade, completing homework/housework, playing outside for x number of hours, etc. Set rules that would work for your child as every family have different screen time rules.

 

Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age : 

#planebae : Talk to your child about ethical live tweeting 

Google : Stop Google from tracking you and your kids every movement

Facebook  : Is it safe for your child to have Facebook facial recognition switched one

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