For those who live in a cave, childhood poverty is rife. I’ve seen so many school uniform posts, people declaring that they have spent a damn fortune and it’s taken all their summer budget – or that they have had to apply to the school for their fund to help with uniform costs. Ours so far has cost £188. That is without shoes, coat, or outdoor PE kit. It’s bloody extortionate.
We are incredibly lucky as a family. Bryan has a good job, I work a very small number of hours a week during the holidays, and we also have my little side hustle which, even when I’m having a poorly day, I can just about manage to put up a couple of social media posts. We aren’t exactly rolling in cash and wiping our butts on £20s, but things are alright. Things are certainly much easier than they were four years ago when I was struggling to make ends meet, choosing which bill to skip, and drowning in debt.
But, we do have to prioritise. I’m proud to say we are currently debt free, the bills are all up to date, and the fridge and freezer are fit to burst! However, almost every day my little man comes to me asking for something. And it is usually the dreaded gaming microtransactions.
Jack is an avid gamer. He plays on four different consoles plus the iPad and plays a huge range of games including Roblox, Super Smash Brothers (or whatever it is called), Pixel Gun and Minecraft. Each of these games are free to play once you have downloaded the initial game or, in the case of console games, bought the disk.
It’s the bloody microtransactions. The Robux, the vBucks, the Battle Credits, the Skin Packs… if I gave him free run, I know Jack would spend hundreds of pounds a day with ZFG (zero f***s given, to those who aren’t familiar with my favourite phrase!). So I have it completely locked down, and the only person who can authorise purchases is me, using my fingerprint or a password that only I know.
Sometimes, perhaps once per week, I allow Jack £5-10 to purchase something he wants. But that is all. And the rest of the week I tell him I have no money. Microtransactions, if left unchecked, are the ones you hear about in the news where a child has spent hundreds and even thousands of pounds on things for their games before it has been flagged on their parents’ accounts. And they are just so easy a trap to fall into.
Out of lives? 99p for 5 more. Need Robux to buy something to help you win? Only £4.99! Battle credits? £9.99 and you can play the event and win awesome prizes.
But it’s a trap that we have learned to monitor very carefully. I personally have Jack’s tech very heavily locked down so that he can’t go overboard.
I love Jack and he has everything he needs, for which I count my blessings! Kids unfortunately don’t understand the value of money, and I won’t be explaining it to Jack properly for a few years yet, as he just isn’t at the level of understanding. Money is quite an abstract concept to him, with the rising use of credit and debit cards, online payments, contactless payment etc. And autistic people just aren’t great with the abstract.
So if my son comes telling you I am poor, skint, or in a desperate situation, I promise you all, we are OK. But I’ll be damned if I’m blowing all our hard earned cash on bloody gaming microtransactions!