The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan is calling attention to a rapidly growing problem in Japan involving young children spending enormous sums of money on online games without their parents' knowledge or approval.
According to the center's findings, posted on its website, in 2012, it received 5,616 inquiries from concerned parents, the highest ever recorded.
TBS quoted an agency official as saying that cases particularly involving young children using smartphones to play games have risen dramatically this year, with the current number of cases almost 2.5 times greater than at the same point last year. Among these cases, money spent by young middle school children buying items, clothes, and digital goods for their game characters, surpassed 2 million yen in just half a year.
In one case, the mother of a child who had spent over 200,000 yen said she had no idea her son had spent so much and that when her husband found out, he was furious. "It's scary that he was able to use a card we weren't keeping track of to pay for all of his online game purchases," she told TBS.
In another case, a two-year-old child incurred debts by using a smartphone at home. The center said young children are getting a hold of their parents smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices and without their parents noticing, playing games.
The Consumer Affairs Center said it is easy for children to make purchases because they aren't required to give passwords.
The center is seeking to collaborate with game companies, credit card companies, and parents alike to tackle the issue, TBS said. A spokesperson appealed to parents to make sure they understand the amount of money involved in their children's gaming, and to be more mindful of their activities.© Japan Today