A 5-year-old girl from Westport, Mass., went on an online shopping binge, racking up nearly $4,000 in charges on her mother’s Amazon account. The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of financial literacy and responsibility, not just for children but for parents as well.
According to Lila’s mother, Jessica Nunes, the incident has been a teachable moment about the value of money and the importance of working for what you want. Nunes hopes that this experience will teach Lila about the responsibility that comes with spending money, and the need to prioritize needs versus wants.
“I am using this as an opportunity to teach Lila about the value of money and the importance of working for the things she wants,” Nunes tells PEOPLE. “I don’t want to set the standard for ‘I want it, I get it.’ She has started doing age-appropriate chores around the house for an allowance.”
In another incident, during the summer, a 6-year-old boy from Connecticut managed to spend over $16,000 of his mother’s money on in-app purchases for a game on an iPad. Jessica Johnson, the mother of the child, had her PayPal account linked to the iPad. While playing Sonic Forces, Jessica Johnson’s son George spent a whopping $16,293.10 on Apple App Store charges for buying rings.
Johnson, a real estate broker and mother of two, learned the hard way about the importance of protecting her accounts from unauthorized access. She informed other parents on Facebook about the incident so they can be aware of such incidents and take appropriate measures.
“As a mother of young children, I thought it was important for other parents to be aware of it,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, because we’re working really hard to keep our kids entertained while getting work done. We’re [sometimes] inclined to say, ‘Here, take the iPad.’ I think, clearly, it backfired in my case.”
Apple eventually refunded Johnson a portion of the money, but this incident serves as a reminder that parents must take steps to protect their financial information and accounts from unauthorized access.
Johnson discovered that the settings on Johnson’s iPad were most likely configured for a one-time password entry, which enabled her son to continue charging her credit card without any further authentication. “I didn’t realize there was a setting where the child could continue to buy without the password after a certain amount of time,” she said. “There are various settings that I’m now learning about.”
After the incident, Johnson decided to purchase a game console for her children to use instead of the iPad, and she took the necessary step of changing all of her passwords to avoid any future unauthorized access.
Financial literacy is a critical life skill that should be taught from a young age. Parents can start by introducing their children to basic financial concepts and teaching them about the value of money. They can also encourage their children to work for what they want by assigning age-appropriate chores in exchange for allowances. This not only teaches children the value of hard work but also helps them develop a sense of responsibility when it comes to managing their money.
As Nunes pointed out, parents also need to take responsibility for protecting their financial information and accounts from unauthorized access. This includes setting strong passwords, not storing financial information on devices, and monitoring account activity regularly.
“My takeaway from this experience is to be more proactive about protecting my accounts with passwords and not storing financial information,” said Nunes. “Secondly, I am using this as an opportunity to teach Lila about the value of money and the importance of working for the things she wants.”
The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of responsibility. By teaching children about the value of money, the need to work for what they want, and how to manage their finances, parents can help their children develop healthy financial habits that will benefit them throughout their lives.
As parents, we need to take responsibility for teaching our children about finances and protecting our accounts from unauthorized access. As Nunes puts it, “You have to teach them [children] how to be financially responsible, because it’s not something they are going to learn in school.”