The Jakarta Post
Ririn Ike Wulandari – a 37-year-old homemaker in Kediri, West Java – was shocked to discover that her husband's monthly phone bill amounted to US$ 777.17.
The staggering sum of money puzzled her, especially considering that her husband had never used his smartphone for anything other than the occasional outgoing call and texting.
She later found after skimming the bill that most of the purchases were for video games on Google Play. The person behind the high phone bill was none other than her 12-year-old son, who had been using her husband’s phone to play games.
“It suddenly dawned on me that my youngest son had been buying in-game items such as gems and diamonds on [popular shooter game] Free Fire through his father’s postpaid data plan,” Ririn told The Jakarta Post over the telephone on Tuesday.
The purchases were made in more than one game, as her son had also bought several items with real-world currency on other popular mobile games such as Mobile Legends and Minecraft.Nearly Rp 4 million was spent on games in early April.
Ririn said her son did not have any idea he was using real money to pay for such in-game items. He had apparently tapped on pop-up ads featuring buttons that allowed players to pay for gems and diamonds without ever realizing that his actions had come with a price tag.
“My son wants to become a famous YouTuber with millions of subscribers. He said he wanted to start a channel on the site. We thought we were helping him achieve his goal by allowing him full access to my husband’s phone, but now I realized we had been too lax,” she said.
Ririn has since requested refunds from her husband’s phone provider. She also shared her experience in a Facebook post that had gone viral and shared more than 3,000 times.
From the post, she also received suggestions from netizens advising her to cancel several purchases in the Google Play store. She was able to undo eight transactions totaling Rp 1.19 million.
Through her post, she wanted other parents to learn from her experience, so as to prevent similar things from happening to them, especially those with online game-loving children.
Ririn also called on other parents to learn more about the inner workings of their smartphones, especially regarding frictionless digital payments, since children could now easily misuse the feature.
“Always be one step ahead of your children when it comes to smartphones. Features designed for ease of access could backfire if used unwisely,” she said.