Teen blows mom’s life savings on mobile games

She got hooked on mobile games and secretly took money from her mother's bank account.

We’ve all heard of online gaming addiction, but this story from China takes it to a whole new level. A 13-year-old girl spent a whopping CNY 449,500 (around $64K or P3.59 million) on mobile games in four months using her mom’s debit card.

According to this report from the South China Morning Post, the girl, whose name was withheld, is a secondary school student from Henan province in central China. She got hooked on mobile games and secretly took money from her mother’s bank account.

Her mother, identified as Wang, only learned of the theft when a teacher phoned her and told her about the girl’s excessive gaming habits. Wang checked her bank balance and was stunned to see that she had only CNY 0.5 ($0.07 or P4) left in her account.

The girl admitted that she had spent CNY 120,000 yuan ($17K or P944K) buying the games, CNY 210,000 ($29K or P1.65M) for in-game purchases, and CNY 100,000 ($140K or P787K) buying games for at least 10 of her classmates.

She claims to have no idea about money or where it came from and when she found a debit card at home, she just linked it to her smartphone. She also remembered her mom telling her the card’s password in case she needed money when they were not around.

She said that she was afraid to ask for help from her teachers because her parents would be furious. The teen also covered her tracks by deleting transaction records on their smartphones.

Also read: The father of the mobile phone laments how we’re all obsessed with our smartphones

China is the world’s largest video game market. At the end of 2021, over 656 million of their over 1.4 billion people are playing mobile games. However, authorities have been concerned for years about the negative effects of gaming on the physical and mental health of children.

In August 2021, China introduced new rules that limit the amount of time under-18s can spend on video games to three hours a week, a move it said was necessary to combat gaming addiction.

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