Most of us have handed our kids our phones at least once or twice. But a recent story out of the U.K. might make you reconsider: A 9-year-old girl spent more than $1,300 on a dream Disneyland vacation while her dad napped.
That's right. Thirteen hundred dollars. And she did it using her dad's unprotected phone.
Last year, my son somehow bought a video game on the PlayStation. He was just a toddler but I still panicked. While some of my panic had to do with the fact that he purchased a game on my husband's PlayStation (and my husband can be a bit ... possessive ... of his video games), most of my concern stemmed from the part of me (read: cheap) that was worried about how much the game cost. I didn’t know what card was attached to the PlayStation account so I was terrified that whatever account the funds were being taken out of was at risk of going into overdraft.
It seems I'm lucky that my son made a $15 game purchase instead of spending $1,300 on a high-class Disneyland vacation like Ian Wilson’s daughter Susan did.
According to the story, the father of three was asleep and left his password-free phone unattended. Little Susan was able to guess his Paypal passcode correctly and that's when things got interesting. The 9 year old went on a spending spree: $524.44 on flights and hotel gift cards, $280.68 on a VIP trip to the Eiffel Tower and $513.74 on the Disneyland Express train and tickets for the Disneyland Paris theme park.
I don’t know the appropriate punishment for 'accidentally' spending $1,300.
Susan’s parents say she is very sorry and didn’t understand the gravity of what she did. So sorry, in fact, that they didn’t have the heart to punish her. Say what?
This one has me baffled. I don’t know the appropriate punishment for "accidentally" spending $1,300. I’d be so busy crying on the phone with Paypal — who eventually classified this incident as "friendly fraud" and refunded the money — that I wouldn’t have time to dole out punishments. For a little while, at least.
But Susan is 9. At 9 years old, I was very well into the conscious decision stage, and I know 9 year olds in 2017 are a whole lot smarter that I was. I find it pretty hard to believe she had no idea what she was doing.
It's crucial that children learn from their mistakes. So what did this little girl learn? For this family, the "punishment" of choice was simply adding increased protections on Daddy's phone.
Even if Susan didn't learn anything from this episode, I sure have. Appreciate the small purchases — and fear the teenage years.