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This story first appeared in China Report, MIT Technology Review’s newsletter about...
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Teen drains family’s savings of $64K — by buying mobile games


It’s not all fun and games.

A teen in China drained her family’s life savings on video games, buying a whopping $64,000 worth of pay-to-play mobile entertainment.

Gong Yiwang, mom to the high-rolling 13-year-old, had no clue her daughter was charging her debit card until receiving a phone call from the school, according to Insider.

The worried phone home prompted Yiwang to check her bank account, realizing her balance was now a measly 7 cents.

Yiwang reportedly discovered that her teenage daughter went on a five-month spending spree from January to May, which totaled an estimated $16,800 on game accounts and nearly $30,000 on in-game purchases.

“I never thought a 13-year-old girl could do this,” Yiwang told local TV outlet Elephant News, per Insider. “I’m in a daze; my head feels like it’s going to explode.”


Gong Yiwang, mom to the high-rolling 13-year-old, had no clue her daughter was charging her debit card until receiving a phone call from the school.
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But Yiwang’s daughter told Elephant News that she wasn’t aware where the money came from or the tab she racked up, she just knew her mom’s bank account was linked to her cell phone.

However, she apparently deleted transactions and messages to hide the evidence from her parents.

The youngster also gifted funds to jealous classmates wanting to play after they hounded her for cash.

“If I didn’t send it to them, they would bother me all day,” the sorrowful teen said. “If I told the teacher, I was afraid that the teacher would tell my parents and that my parents would be angry.”

Yiwang is now trying to scrounge up the money lost to her child’s gaming habits, saying she’s requested refunds from a number of platforms but has yet to receive the funds.

In recent years, China has attempted to curb children’s addiction to online gaming by limiting their game time to three hours a week in 2021.

With many of the country’s younger generations glued to their devices, the government introduced internet addiction camps, meant to treat those with an internet addiction disorder.



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