Parents nowadays leave their kids to their own devices, quite literally.

This is especially prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when parents are forced to work from home, while juggling their own work, household chores and keeping their children occupied.

The next time you feel like leaving your child unsupervised with a mobile phone or a tablet, think again, as doing so may land you in a very "expensive" mess.

Just ask Jessica Johnson, 41, from the US.

The real estate broker unknowingly racked up RM66,003.35 (US$16,293.10) in Apple app store charges in July, after her six-year-old son used her iPad, which is linked to her PayPal account, to purchase "booster" rings on his favourite video game, Sonic Forces.The add-on boosters gave him access to new characters, and more speed, among others.

And to make things worse, Johnson has been working from home only on a commission basis since last March, and she had to skip a month of mortgage payment to repay the hefty charges. Her husband is a stay-at-home dad.

When Johnson finally laid eyes on the bill, she thought she had fallen victim to a fraud and called the bank to file a complaint.

The bank got back to her in October and said the charges were indeed hers, and asked her to contact Apple.

Only when a representative from Apple ran her through the detailed items on the bill did she realize that the charges has been accummulated by her son in the game.

Johnson acknowledged that her predicament is the result of her not knowing the preventive settings on her account.

However, Apple has offered to refund US$10,553.86 (RM42,753.69) to Johnson, reported Good Morning America.

Realizing his folly, the boy has offered to "pay back" Johnson for the charges accrued, said the report. Johnson have also since wisened up, by changing all passwords, purchasing a gaming console for her boys and enforcing new rules at home.

Her advice to parents are to always learn what their children are doing online.

"Look over your kid's shoulder. See what they're really seeing.

"Also, always check your (device's) security settings."

Sound advice indeed. Perhaps it's wise for parents to be wary of what their children are up to with their devices, so that similar occurences can be prevented.


Source: Good Morning America, The New York Post
Photo source: Good Morning America, microsoft.com