A Chinese girl aged 13 spent her family’s entire savings of $68,000 on mobile games in a few months, leaving her parents shocked and broke.
The girl’s mother, Gong Yiwang, discovered the massive loss when her daughter’s boarding school teachers called her to express their concern about her gaming addiction.
Gong checked her bank account and found only seven cents left after her daughter’s online shopping spree, which lasted from January to May last year.
She told Elephant News, a Chinese TV station, that she was stunned by her daughter’s actions. ‘I never thought a 13-year-old girl could do this,’ she said. ‘I’m in a daze; my head feels like it’s going to explode.’
The girl, whose name was not revealed, was able to drain the account and hide the payments by deleting chat and transaction records from her parents.
She not only spent money on games for herself, but also bought in-game items for her friends.
The girl regretted what she did and said she was pressured by her classmates to send them money.
‘If I didn’t send it to them, they would bother me all day. If I told the teacher, I was afraid that the teacher would tell my parents and that my parents would be angry,’ she sobbed to Elephant News.
The girl’s spending breakdown included $16,800 for game accounts, $30,000 for in-game purchases, and money transfers to ten of her classmates – totaling $68,000.
The story went viral on Chinese social media, attracting 140 million views on Weibo, Insider reports.
China has a huge and fast-growing market for mobile gaming, with about 660 million mobile gamers. In 2019, the mobile gaming market in China reached 209 billion yuan ($32 billion), and was expected to maintain a double-digit growth rate in the following years driven by innovative technologies such as 5G and cloud services.
However, China also considers internet addiction a clinical disorder and has implemented strict regulations to curb gaming among young people. In 2021, China limited minors from playing online games to only one hour a day on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, nearly 12 percent of Chinese university students had Internet Addiction Disorder3. The China’s General Administration of Press and Publication reported that 14 percent of Chinese minors, including 33 million of those under the age of 16, were obsessed with the Internet.