A teenage girl with a "gaming addiction" in China had spent $64,000 on mobile phone games in just a few months, clearing out all of her parent's life savings without them knowing.
The teenage girl's mother, Gong Yiwang, was unaware of the situation and only found out her account had been wiped out after teachers at her daughter's boarding school called to tell her they were worried her child was addicted to video games.
When she later went to check her bank account, she found just seven cents left following the girl's spending binge, which lasted five months from January to May last year.
The 13-year-old girl, who has not been named, was smart enough to conceal the payments, deleting chat and transaction records and hiding them from her parents after draining the account.
'I never imagined my 13-year-old girl could do this,' the distraught mother told Elephant News, a Chinese TV station. "My head feels like it's going to explode.'' I'm in a daze."
Not only did Gong's daughter spend her parents' money on games for herself, but she also funds in-game purchases for her friends. She was devastated when her story was exposed, disclosing to Elephant News that her schoolmates pestered her to send them money.
She said amid tears, 'If I didn't send it to them, they would pester me all day. If I told the teacher, I was scared that the teacher would tell my parents and that my parents would be angry.
The spending spree from January to May managed to rack up a £16,800 bill for game accounts, a £30,000 bill for in-game purchases, and the girl also sent money to ten of her classmates, estimating the total cost to £68,000.
Gong's daughter explained to Elephant News that she had linked her mother's debit card to her mobile phone but didn't know how much she was spending. She said she remembered her mother telling her the account's password from a previous occasion when she asked her to buy something else.
The unbelievable months-long spending spree went viral on Chinese social media, racking up 140 million views on Weibo
Kids Have Wasted Thousand Of Dollars Gaming
Many kids worldwide have spent thousands of dollars playing "mobile games that cost money." These games make their money by getting players hooked with a free download. However, players would be charged for all the bells and whistles they must have later.
Unfortunately, kids are not as wise as adults to the ways of the world, and they have to learn their lessons the hard way. Also, parents need to know that giving juniors access to their passwords and credit cards may not always be a good idea.
The Chinese government considers internet addiction a clinical disorder and, for years, has worked to reduce gaming, which it previously described as 'spiritual opium.'
A report in 2018 published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions discovered nearly 12 percent of Chinese university students had Internet Addiction Disorder, which it called an impulse control disorder, 'similar to pathological gambling, eating disorders, and other addictions.'