Long story short – My son accidentally spent $450 on phone apps

Yes it happened. My 6 yr old spent $450 on apps by mistake. Well not really by mistake, he just didn’t know he was actually buying them. Considering I teach people how to protect themselves and their children while online, this was quite embarrassing.

How it happened: My wife went to buy an app for him and accidentally turned off parental controls (this is what we think happened).

What he did: He bought several apps as well as in game add ons, like fake money, that could be used for in game purchases. There were several $100 charges for in game cash.

How I found out: Google emailed me thanking me for my purchase and then paypal contacted me telling me there was unusual activity

How did I solve the problem:

1. I checked the tablet and turned parental controls back on (they were off)

2. I contacted google who refunded all of the money within minutes

What did we do to my son: We used this as a learning experience for all of them (I have 3 kids). He was 6 so didn’t quite get what he was doing. My 8 yr old would of known full well what he was doing. So we spent some time going through all of the rules (though we have done this many times)

Here is a video where I explain the whole situation in more detail:

Is Fortnite appropriate for kids?

My son, 8 yrs old, is begging to play this game (fortnite). Apparently he is the only kid in his class that is not allowed to play it, which is ironic considering I am probably the only parent in the class that plays it! Having said that, he will finally be allowed this Oct when he turns 9. I believe he is finally ready. But no way is my 6 yr old allowed. He is not ready. He is not mature enough.

My biggest suggestion to parents – please monitor each game your child wants to play. Here is my 5 point plan for monitoring a specific game:

  1. Ask your child if its appropriate
  2. Google the game and check out some reviews
  3. Look at the game website and/or app store to read the description
  4. Check out the game rating
  5. Play the game yourself

Honestly, I can do all of this in 20-30 minutes. Yes it takes up my time but its well worth it. I have to block about 20% of games that my son asks to play. I enjoy games so I don’t mind learning about them. Plus I can talk to him about the game and see what it is about it that interests him. Check out the following video where I discuss Fortnite and how it is/is not appropriate for kids:

Should toddlers be on your phone or tablet?

Here is an article about this topic: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/04/living/screen-free-week-schools-susan-linn/index.html?hpt=hp_bn11

Personally, we do not allow our 3 or 1 year old to use our devices. The reason why: We are scared they will break them. They do watch TV so I cannot say that is any better or worse than the tablet. Having said that, neither of our kids show any interest in our devices either. If they were interested it might be a different story but at this point they do not use them. My advice to parents is that technology can be good or bad – you just need to set limits and know what your children are doing. And this goes for everything, not just technology.

Kids, Bullying, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Usually my posts relate to technology but today it will focus on another passion of mine – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and School Bullying. The reason I am writing this: I believe that every kid in K-12 should be taking brazilian jiu jitsu (or wrestling) as part of their school curriculum. Now of course I believe all adults should be as well but this article will only focus on K-12 school kids. Please note that this article is my opinion and based on my experiences only.

Let me start with, what is brazilian jiu jitsu? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a form of ground fighting, known as grappling. It is very similar to wrestling that most have seen in the olympics and in schools across the US. The difference? Instead of winning to pin, you win when you can control and submit your opponent. Also, instead of a small rash guard type outfit you wear a gi, which is an outfit that simulates clothing. MMA training also boosts your confidence and self-esteem. There is also belt rank in brazilian jiu jitsu. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a combat martial art and has been used in every UFC, in fact, it was made known to the world during UFC 1. Here is more info on the what is.

Now, why do I believe this art should be taught to our kids and how do I think it would help with bullying? First let me by clear that I do not think this would solve our bullying problem 100% and I think there are many good things being done in schools to prevent it. However, I think its still a problem and that this would help tremendously. Now I think all sports are great for kids as they burn their energy, let them learn how to play as a team, work together, compete, and improve their motor skills, cardio, and fitness. BJJ does all of this and much more. It is a physical sport. It requires you to

-Learn to deal with winning and losing.
-Learn to deal with your adrenaline during stressful situation.
-wrestle people.
-Learn to properly use small devices, such as a tactical pen.
-use muscles you did not know you had.
-practice – a lot.
-learn about human anatomy.
-use your skills in BJJ to overcome strength and size – Yes size and strength are not important in bjj when skill is greater. This sport was designed for the smaller/weaker person to be able to win in a fight (yes a fight) against a stronger/bigger opponent. In fact, the inventor of the art was a 135 pound man that would win in full combat against 200 pound skilled fighters. If you do not think your kid should learn to fight, please reconsider. Fighting at many levels (physical/mental) WILL happen from the time that kid enters schools throughout the rest of their lives, even in the workplace. Shouldn’t they learn strategies to win and deal with this at the early age?

So why do I think this would help kids?

BJJ improves:

-Confidence – You learn that regardless of any disability you have (physical) you can improve and win.
-Attitude – Bullies who come into the gym soon realize that a smaller person can beat them in a ‘wrestling match’. You quickly learn that this is ok. A basic rule of bjj is leave your ego at the door. This translates into real life. Most BJJers do not fight outside of the gym as they get that energy out of them in the gym. Additionally people who are weaker are not ‘afraid’ outside the gym. They are able to deal with everything in their day to day life better as they have confidence and realize that even in a threatening situation that they can overcome it and losing or winning is not as important as trying.
– Learn to win and lose. Its ok and it happens to all bjj students. You will win and lose and learn to be OK with that.
-ego. While you lose your ego, you gain one. You learn what you can accomplish and that others can accomplish their own personal feats.
-individual/self – you get to see yourself improve on a daily basis
– Stress
-Physical strength and stamina – you will be in great shape all the time

What about other martial arts? NO. Most martial arts are really babysitting clubs. They do a lot of the wrong things. The kids never really learn to defend themselves and they gain a false sense of confidence. For example, in many TKD/Karate schools, the kids break boards, punch bags, and kick the air. As has been demonstrated time and time again, you need to practice your martial art at full speed every week in order to actually learn to defend yourself. The reason that TKD/Karate does NOT do this is that kids cannot get kicked and punched in the face every week on purpose by other kids. Thus I would never recommend these arts for self defense unless your child is actually sparring, full speed, routinely. I see boxers sparring in the gym every week and they leave with blackeyes, bloody noses, and need to soak in ice after sparring because they hurt so bad – I do NOT see TKD practitioners doing this, especially kids. There is also the issue of brain damage but that is off topic here as it doesnt apply to bjj.

What about other sports? Other sports are great. But they do not have the physical demands that BJJ does (except wrestling/judo). BJJ requires you to be hands on and requires you to learn how to use your adrenaline in the most uncomfortable situations (getting beat in a wrestling match). Once you can deal with that, you can deal with anything life will throw at you. Do I think this would solve bullying? I think that it would stop ‘some’ bullies from even starting to bully. I also think it would help ‘some’ people deal with bullying in a much better manner.