XBox abdication of parental responsibility controls

It’s been a busy winter for us, but this story (originally in the Daily Mail, unsurprisingly enough), made me grumpy enough to warrant a post.

It concerns a mother who is indignant that Microsoft are ignoring her complaints about her 11 year old child being ‘allowed’ to spend over £1000 on XBox Live. Over the course of six months as well, so it’s not like it was a spending binge.

Some choice quotes from the article:

“It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done,” out of pocket mother Dawn Matthews told the Daily Mail.

Indeed. Lucky there are several checks in place to ensure that children can’t spend someone elses money. All of which you bypassed for him.

“When he is in gaming mode he can’t be thinking about the money. You can’t put all that responsibility on a young boy.

Yes. Heaven forbid a child understand the concept of money, and the spending of other people’s.

“It is impossible to monitor everything your children do. These companies should take some responsibility. They take advantage of vulnerable people.”

Well, someone should certainly take responsibility. I’m going to go with the person who gave the child the ability to spend that money, and to a lesser extent the child for actually spending it.

“A thousand pounds isn’t that much to people like Bill Gates,” concluded Dawn Matthews, “but for a single mum it is a lot of money that I don’t have.”

Okay, well a) Bill Gates has been gone from Microsoft for a long time, and b) if you don’t have the money to spend, then you should be careful about how you allow it to be spent. Six months went past before this was stopped. That’s six credit card bills with their contents ignored. If you don’t understand what you’re doing with your credit card, then maybe it’s not a wise thing for you to have a credit card.

As if the refusal to accept responsibility for disabling all the parental controls and putting her credit card details in wasn’t enough, a cursory examination of this 11 year old’s public gaming history shows a slew of 16+ and 18+ plus titles.

  • SmackDown vs. RAW 2009 – 16+
  • Red Dead Redemption – 18+
  • Borderlands – 18+
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops – 18+
  • Gears of War – 18+
  • Call of Duty: MW2 – 18+
  • Assassins Creed – 18+
  • Left for Dead – 18+
  • and several more
So Dawn is quite happy to let her child play games rated well beyond his age. And yet we’re supposed to blame Microsoft. If she let her child rent and watch the Saw or Hostel movies through Lovefilm, should we blame Lovefilm for that? Ratings are there for a reason, just as the credit card checks and parental controls are. If you let your child play on the train tracks, you don’t get to blame the train company for the ensuing accident.

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Last modified: August 14 2014.