Are Video Games Draining Bank Accounts? Parents Debate Children’s Gaming Spending Habits

Are Video Games Draining Bank Accounts? Parents Debate Children’s Gaming Spending Habits
Credit: Garrett Morrow via Pexels

Since the inception of video games, there have always been debates surrounding the common past-time. For many of us, gaming is a therapeutic and fun form of entertainment, and for others, it can even be an entire lifestyle.

Whether someone games as an infrequent hobby or avidly dedicates time to play, it’s no secret that video games have ingrained themselves within modern culture.

This is particularly true with younger generations, who have been born into a time where everyone uses technology and video games are continually progressing.

For most children and teenagers, games serve as a fun way to relax, connect with friends, and escape reality. From easy-to-access mobile games to console and PC titles, there’s a whole world to discover within gaming communities.

Unfortunately, while the majority of this is all good and fun, one notable debate is over how costly games can be in correlation to children and their ability to access and use funds irresponsibly.

According to GlobalData, “In 2018, the video games market was worth more than $130bn and is likely to become a $300bn-plus industry by 2025.” The company also noted that “mobile gaming has already outstripped the console and personal computer (PC) markets.”

The gaming industry earns its place via many different avenues, including video game sales, in-game purchases, streaming, new gaming systems and technology, and more.

One ongoing debate primarily surrounds microtransactions – a common practice in the video game industry where virtual purchases can be made outside of the original game purchase. Microtransactions are often seen in free-to-play games since this is where they make their money.

In-game purchases make it all too easy to spend more than anticipated since they typically come in smaller increments that add up over time.

With over 90 percent of people under 18 playing video games according to one study, parents have taken to the Internet to voice concerns over how much their children are spending.

From all over the world, families are complaining about how they’re unexpectedly discovering receipts for in-game purchases totaling absurd amounts.

BBC recently shared numerous stories about families who had gone through this which included: a 16-year-old from Scotland who spent over £2000 on a game that his sister had to pay back with school savings, a kid who racked up £700 via in-game purchases on a mobile game called Clash of Clans, and another family whose daughter repurchased a game multiple times, charging upward of £100 through Google Play despite it reportedly being password protected.

Perhaps the most unfortunate story came from a woman in Hampshire, whose 22-year-old son suffers from several disabilities that give him an “approximate cognitive ability of a seven-year-old child.” His mother claims that after playing a mobile application called ‘Hidden Artifacts’, her son spent more than £3000 over several months, effectively depleting his savings.

She expresses, “It is extremely distressing that vulnerable people, such as my son, become victims of what is thought to be an educational game.”

When it comes down to it, it seems that a lot of people are angry about the way that youths can easily get roped into overspending on games. Concerns have also been raised over the idea that some of these purchases could become addictive and later result in gambling addictions.

On the flip side, some people are countering that parents should be doing a better job of supervising game time or applying restrictions on the way their kids can spend.

So, are video games draining bank accounts? That seems to be a fact, but the cause is not as clear. Whether children are sneaking mom’s credit card out of her purse or unknowingly adding up $5 microtransactions, there’s definitely a problem to be battled.

When it comes down to it, parents should be more proactive about keeping an eye on their children’s devices while actively utilizing tools like password protection and not saving credit cards to accounts.

At the end of the day, the gaming industry will continue to push sales and tempt players with all things virtual, but between extra precautions, focusing on impulse control, and educating younger people, a balance can be found to prevent unfortunate circumstances without derailing a booming market.