FarmVille, a game on Facebook, might be fun, but it can also be expensive:
A mother has warned of the risk of children spending hundreds of pounds on “free” online games available through Facebook after her 12-year-old son ran up bills of more than £900 without her knowledge.
The woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, discovered last month that her son had spent £905 on FarmVille. He had emptied his own savings account of £288 and had used her credit card to the tune of £625 to pay the bills. […]
She contacted her credit card company, HSBC, but was told she would only qualify for a refund if she reported her son to the police and obtained a crime number. “He would be cautioned and I have been told that this caution would stay with him. Obviously the idea of a stupid farm simulation jeopardising his future earnings is not something that I want to consider,” she said.
She added that her son was “very shocked” when confronted with the amount he had spent, but it was clear he knew what he was doing. “When I asked him why he did it he said that they had brought out ‘good stuff that I wanted’.”
It does lead to some interesting ethical questions, should these games be able to charge money, and parental controls – facebook is clear in rule 4.3 You will not use Facebook if you are under 13 and yet this child was only 12 – I’m aware of many young people on facebook before they should be but it does highlight why parents need to know what their children are doing.