Online Safety – A Parents Responsibility

It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done. When he is in gaming mode he can’t be thinking about the money. You can’t put all that responsibility on a young boy. It is impossible to monitor everything your children do. These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people. A thousand pounds isn’t that much to people like Bill Gates, but for a single mum it is a lot of money that I don’t have.

Wondering what all that is about? Those are the words of Dawn Matthews, a mother who has been in the news recently after receiving a nasty surprise on her credit card bill. £1082.52p worth of nasty surprise as it happens. It turns out that Dawn entered her credit card details into her son’s Xbox 360 in order to buy a membership to allow him to play online with his friends. From that moment six months ago (she’d already bought a years online play for her son previously to that) her son had been unknowingly buying things online through the Xbox using his mothers credit card. Dawn didn’t notice for so long as her laptop was broken and she hadn’t been able to view her credit card statements, so the charges kept piling up a bit at a time. When she eventually showed her son the damage he’d done the boy burst into tears and unplugged the Xbox claiming he didn’t want it anymore. Dawn has since started a Facebook group blaming Microsoft for tricking her son into spending so much money like this.

Here’s the thing – I own an Xbox 360 so I can tell you that Dawn Matthews and her son are full of shit and trying to get away with overspending, and I’ll tell you exactly why I’ve come to that conclusion.

  1. When you enter your credit card details into your Xbox it tells you clearly that these will be saved and tells you how to remove them. Dawn claims that she didn’t know that her details were being saved when she had to approve that process in order make the first payment with her card. Furthermore, it’s not that hard to remove a card after it has been added top the Xbox 360 (I’ve removed mine as I’m ever so slightly paranoid about leaving it on there). She says it’s ridiculous that checks aren’t made on payments yet her story is that she clicked past one of the checks without even noticing it when it takes up the entire screen.
  2. Whenever you buy something online using the Xbox 360 you’re taken to a payment screen. This screen shows you how many Microsoft Points (the online currency used by the system) you have left, how much the item costs and then gives you a choice of payment methods. Eleven year old Brendan Matthews would have had to manually choose to pay using his mothers credit card each and every time he bought something. As the majority of the payments were around the £4 mark (the average price for game add-ons), that’s over two hundred and fifty times he chose to pay using his mothers credit card and yet she claims he didn’t know what he was doing because he was “in gaming mode” and “vulnerable”. Even if the boy didn’t know he was using his mother’s credit card details, he knew he was using someones, so he probably thought a glitch was allowing him to buy whatever he wanted on someone else’s account.
  3. Here’s some pretty damning evidence. When you set up your online profile on an Xbox 360 you have to enter your age. If the age you enter is under 18 then you get given a child’s account. Those accounts have a few small features to help children play online safely, and one of those is that they are unable to buy anything. As Dawn set up the online playing for her son, it seems that she specifically gave him an adult account that is able to buy items (which also opened him up to voice and video communications from strangers by the way). So either Dawn Matthews, the woman who claims “These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people.”, doesn’t care about her son as much as she claims or her son is a lying toerag who set that account up saying he was over 18 specifically to get access to things someone his age shouldn’t be exposed to. I’m inclined to believe the latter, but Dawnie obviously doesn’t take the time to read these things and already bypassed the checks in place on one part of the system.

No matter what they say, there’s no way that the boy didn’t notice that he was using a credit card to pay for all the items he bought for his games (more than most people would in five years of gaming, in fact as the average spend is £10 per person per month) and yes, he can be expected to take responsibility at that age and at least understand that money isn’t free whether he’s in gaming mode or not. Dawn may well have been thick enough to miss all the many checks in place that stop these things from happening, but her current stance where she’s blaming Microsoft for not having any checks in place stinks of someone trying to get a settlement to cover their own mistake to me.

I’ll leave you with a final word from Dawn on this which shows her parenting skills to the world.

I haven’t punished him because he feels bad enough and I know he won’t do it again.


23 thoughts on “Online Safety – A Parents Responsibility

  1. That woman is either extremely naïve or criminally negligent. :irked:.In December, my Brother paid for some goods on my behalf using his credit card. (because I don't have a credit card) It's possible that his credit card details are still there, but even if they are, I would not abuse that. :awww:. If, when I was a child, I had done something similar to this, my Mother would have thrashed the living daylights out of me. :insane:.I'm thankfull for every single thrashing I got as a child. It taught me to respect the bounderies between right and wrong. This woman is not doing her son any favours by not punishing him.

  2. I think the pictures tell as much as the story here. Look how adoringly she looks at him in the first image and how defiant she is in the second. Her little angel could not possibly have conspired against her to do this. He was obviously the victim of some money hungry corporation in her mind. She honestly believes that, and yet look at the evidence…It's interesting that they still own the Xbox, and have it online (as depicted by the third image in the post) despite him dramatically wanting to give it up, and also interesting that his Gamerscore (top right of the screen at about 64,000) shows that he's played at least sixty-four games all the way through (I've managed three to full completion in five years amongst about forty games in total due to skill level and the achievements being so obscure the game needs to be played for hundreds of hours in a row for each one) or about a hundred games just enough to complete their stories once. All those in only eighteen months…Kid needs his hind slapping raw for this and to be put to work at a paper round or something until he's paid his mother back. They should also sell the Xbox and add that to the money that he owes her.

  3. There is absolutely no fucking way that neither of them knew all that time. I'd bet anything. This is fucking disgusting, and I hope she gets what she deserves.

  4. Either she's in denial, or she's desperately trying to blame somebody else than her little cherub.Either way smells fishy from beginning to end.

  5. In this case the majority of the buys were football players and teams for a football game. A game that also features the ability to make your own players with an editor. Kids just don't have any patience these days.

  6. It's interesting that there is such a thing as 'gaming mode' that just sweeps away every little piece of common sense and responsibility. We've had cases here where kids used their mobile phones to buy 'online stuff', and then pay for it via their phones. People pay lots of money for things that don't exist. It's a crazy world!

  7. I have no sympathy for her. She chose to give the brat access to her credit card – and even if he didn't know he was using her card, which I seriously doubt, she certainly knew it. I don't care what she says, she knew it. Microsoft is very clear on the issue.

    In any case, there are alternatives for putting the money in the account (namely pre-paid cards) – and she could have logged in to the account online to keep an eye on the payment history – but she chose to be uninvolved.
    It's not Microsoft's fault that she's braindead. 🙄

    As an aside:
    :eyes: He spent £1000 in six months?! That's like 100,000 points. :faint:
    What on earth was he doing with them all? I could probably buy every (remaining) download for every game I've got with that, and still have points left over. :ko:

    Incidentally, do you know of the woman who was recently claiming that Microsoft was victimising her son? Microsoft caught on to the fact he was cheating, but she insisted that he wasn't cheating, he was just autistic.

    When Microsoft proved he had cheated, her response was to the effect of

    So what if he and his friends were sharing accounts (and therefore, presumably also sharing downloaded content etc)? It's not like he was sharing his bank account details or anything.


  8. Originally posted by Pussy Cat:

    …common sense and responsibility….

    . Honestly, I don't think those words can be applied to *most* earlymid teens in this arena, unless they've been properly schooled in how credit cards actually work, personal finances ('it comes out of your pocket money' etc.) and the fact that literally nothing is free. The problem with credit cards, even for adults, is that it's almost an invisible debt, like it's not actually coming out of your pocket when you spend it. That of course is how the credit card companies work and make all that amazing interest.The mom is definitely the idiot here, for letting that kid loose with her own money, when the kid can't honestly be expected to be mature enough to figure out the consequences and not respond to his 'buy it' glands. It'd be like putting a second polate of dessert in front of him and expecting him to say "yes, it's delicious, but it won't do me any good to have more, and I might feel nauseous later, so thanks, but no thanks." It'd just never happen..Unless : he *did* figure the consequences out and guessed he'd get away with it.

  9. Perhaps you're right – I still think the magic of credit is such a magnet – even adults can't manage it, let alone kids-at-home-with-mom, getting spoiled & suchlike – that kid up there ^^ hasn't got a job, I'll bet, and hasn't actually *had* to pay for anything substantial himself…Plus my daughter is 14, has *a lot* of self control financially (she won't spend *anything*, she saves as much as possible & without fail asks me for phone credit and so on) – and there's no fucking way she can get a job or earn anything realistic – she's as smart as a tack, but there is nowhere to work where she lives, simple as that. Until she's old enough to get a car & drive to McDonalds or wherever in the nearest town, about 20 ks away, no bus service, and it's the same for all kids in her area, so it's not as simple as anyone getting a job by the time they're 11 – it just doesn't *ever* happen unless you work (probably for free) in your dad's shop, or something. Plus no one is allowed to employ you at 11.I'm just saying that you are probably an exception to the normal rules that apply. The majority of kids aren't townies.

  10. By the time a kid is eleven they've either got a job (me) or an allowance (my bastard friends) and have to use that for their own purchases (Transformers comics all around). They know how to use money and they can be expected not to spend a thousand pounds on game extras over only six months.

  11. This kid lives in Kent. Plus there are paper routes open to any age in this country. There was a group of nine year olds round our area who did one together and split the money.

  12. Hahaha – oh OK, paper rounds in the UK 🙂 Yeah – sorry, I was forgetting the suburban lifestyle :).OK well, the area I live in doesn't have those opportunities, but Suburban UK is where the subject of the blog is, so it's fair enough that his is the geographical and social circumstance we talk about. But obviously he didn't manage a credit card that well…and I think it's the mom's fault for putting him in that position, in which he was unable to exercise any restraint, due mostly to immaturity… (I sound like a fucking Vicar don't I? :slaps forehead: but it *is* how I feel about it)

  13. I keep thinking about this. This boy's mom – the Parent – is the 'responsible adult'. Responsible. Accountable. She *is* responsible for his actions. She doesn't need to punish him if she doesn't actually care that he's spent her money, with no consequences for himself.. That's her choice.But : At that age, kids are *not* adults (no matter how many paper rounds they do, or how many greengrocer shops they trim cabbages in etc.) They are not yet right in the head, not enough to be 'responsible' with someone else's cerdit card. It's the same with Alcohol. Obviously a 15-16 year old with alcohol is not going to be the same 15-16 year old, sensible young man he is without alcohol. This kid may have thought he knew what he was doing, but she set him up for that fall, she allowed him the credit card, she set him up with the 'adult' account, she dug the hole and pushed him in.I said ^^ up there somewhere that she's creating (or has already created) a monster, and she is. It's the *parent's* responsibility, from day 1, to instill some values into the child, and give good, understandable reasons for those values…by which I mean that saying "because I said so" is no good, it's laughable, any parent who says those words and expects their kid to simply accept is a total fuckwit. Good reasons need to be there, and if it makes sense – they may not like it, but…if it makes sense, they'll remember it…..Kids *need* a framework, distinct boundaries, beyond which they *cannot* go without reprisal. Kids always push those boundaries, testing the resolve of the parents (and thus the child's own value to the parent, amongst other things. Rules work on so many levels). The parent(s) *must* be consistent (and work as a team if there's two) – this is fundamental for the good of the child, if they are to enter legal adulthood and 'resposibility' with a ghost of a chance. The wide world doesn't give a fuck and will (and of course does) eat them alive and spit out the pips if they don't get with it pretty quickly.Those who figure it out early for themselves (such as Mik) are in the minority – and hats off to you, dude (and dudettes, I know you're out there), if that's the case – those who don't get some guidance, as a rule (and this is *so* fucking visible, is it not) have a bloody hard time adjusting to adulthood and being responsible for their own lives and destiny, working, shopping, eating, maintaining relationships…it's all *fucking* hard to do, and if you've got something 'in the bank' already fom mom or dad (or both), then you're a step or two ahead….it's the parent's responsibilty to try to prepare the child for the world that the parent inhabits.This kid is being set up for even bigger falls in the coming years, in my opinion. And it's the moms' fault.

  14. Originally posted by FlaRin:

    This kid is being set up for even bigger falls in the coming years, in my opinion. And it's the moms' fault.

    Yep. And that's the problem I have with parents like this. They're not only setting their child up for a fall in the future (and a painful one at that), they're teaching them to blame others for their mistakes and expanding the culture of litigation that we already have too much of.

  15. Somehow I have this notion that she never paid much attention to her son before this – just gave him whatever was needed to keep him quiet :awww: I do think the kid should have known better anyway, though.

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