“My kid spent over $700 on his iPad games…What should we do?”

Hello, welcome to Tips on Teens. Thanks for joining us on your lunch break where I answer your
parenting questions every Wednesday at noon. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage
and family therapist and licensed professional clinical counselor here at Teen Therapy Center
in Woodland Hills. I also run a nonprofit organization in the same location called Child and
Teen Counseling which offers affordable, low -cost therapy to the community. and let's jump
into today's question. We just found out that over the last few months our son has charged over
$700 on our credit card for his iPad games. We didn't catch it at first. I don't know what to do
because we promised him that he can have as much video game time as he wants as long as he's getting
A's and he is! We need him to continue doing well so he can get into a good high school. If If we take
away his games, we are afraid that he will stop trying at school. What should we do?" Great, layered,
nuanced question, as they seem like

they always are. There's no simple answer to any of these questions, which makes them really
fun to talk about and probably very relevant to you, the listener and the watcher. So let's jump
into, first and foremost, this parent wants their child to do well and get A's so he can get into
a good high school. I hear this a lot. And it's a lot of pressure to put on a 13 -year -old or 14 -year
-old or whatever middle school grade kid this age is. Because it puts a lot of pressure because
they're putting the pressure that 16, 17, 18 year olds have in getting into college and now that's
being placed on a middle schooler, which sometimes can be overwhelming. So I think it's important
to acknowledge that. Also, we have to acknowledge are these his grades or are they your grades?
Because if they are your grades, you put a tremendous amount of power in his hands that he is not
emotionally ready to handle because if they're your grades all he has to do is not do anything
and he has all the power and

you Dance and get all crazy and get upset and then he can kind of blackmail you because then like
in this situation if you say Well, you spent too much money on these video games We're taking
these away because you've proven that you can't be responsible you say fine I'm not gonna do
my homework anymore. And then yeah, you get scared and you panic and then you back off So it's
really important to understand whose grades are they there are a lot of schools in this city
There are a lot of private schools, there are a lot of really good schools. I think if we put so
much emphasis on what school he's going to go to, you're putting all the power and pressure on
a 13 -year -old that he may not be able to handle.

Secondly, assuming he has not stolen the credit card from your wallet. Now, if he has done that,
and he's stealing your credit card bills and using that credit card number, that's a different
situation. You're going to have to start locking stuff in a safe, and you probably need some
family therapy, because there's a big rift right now between him and you. But let's assume that's
not the case. Let's assume he's playing on his iPad, you know, there's a credit card attached
to the iTunes account, and he's buying skins. And if you don't know what a skin is, it's an aesthetic
part of the game. Doesn't really add much to the game, but it makes your character look really
cool. He's probably buying them at $1, $2, $5 at a time, thinking it's no big deal, but it's added
up to $700 over three months. So it does become a big deal. My hunch is he He has no understanding
of money and how to manage money and how money adds up. So that's something we need to address.
So if you don't want to take the

games away, okay, let's find a different way to do this. I would encourage you to find a way to
make this, instead of a shame on you, you are bad, okay, we're in this situation, how do we resolve
this situation? How do we make this situation better? How do we use this as a teachable moment?
How do we use this to teach financial responsibility? How do we use this as a way to teach giving
back and and what's ruling for charity and there's another word altruism there you go so so I
would approach it in a couple different ways let's say he owes $700 to you and he's not gonna pay
it all back in one week but maybe you find a way for him to pay it back weekly $10 at a time $20 at a
time maybe he's got to go collect cans and bottles and you know for recycling maybe he's got to
help wash the car Maybe he's got to do some extra chores around the house. Maybe he's got to go
and, you know, help the neighbors with their trash cans and, you know, get paid a dollar or two
at a time. You know, make this

possibly an entrepreneurial opportunity for him to start earning money. There's a lot of ways
you can do that. You know, find ways to help him start making money and make it so it's reasonable.
Maybe he has to bring in $10 a week. As long as he's bringing in $10 a week, he's got his games, you
know, so it's not overburdening. overburdening. If you're just saying you got to bring 50 bucks
a week for a 13 year old, 12 year old, 14 year old, that's going to be hard for him to do. You can also
point this direction of possibly, you know, giving back. Instead of paying you back, maybe
you will use this $700 as a way to give back to the community. Maybe it's $700 of community service
where he goes and donates time at the senior center or maybe he, you know, volunteers at Operation
Gratitude. You know, there's a lot of ways he can you give back and maybe each time he every hour
he does like $10 an hour I don't whatever amount you think is appropriate and as long as he's doing,
you know Maybe maybe

three or four or five hours a week. Maybe that's good enough. Maybe that's good enough for him
to find a way to You know give back community and find ways to help others and that's seven hundred
dollars worth of helping others Which adds up to a lot of helping which may be a really important
thing for him to learn as a middle schooler and to give back. You can also combine the two. You
can combine volunteer work and a way to make money, and maybe he earns it off faster, or just one
week he does one, one week he does the other. So don't get too rigid. Don't get too strict, but
help encourage him to learn in a positive way how to give back and how to earn money. This could
be the life lesson that helps him learn how to be an entrepreneur later on in life. 30 years from
now, maybe he's a business owner, started his own company because of this situation, or maybe
he became a philanthropist because of this situation. I know it's kind of a big, you know, thing
to put on someone, but we never

know. But the important thing is not to back away from this and not to overburden him and shame
him either. Let's turn this into a positive. So that's our question for the day. We love your
questions. Keep them coming. If you'd like to ask your question, you can email us at tipsonteens
at teentherapycenter .com or you can direct messages right here on Facebook. We love to hear
from you and I'll see you next Wednesday at 12 o 'clock. See you later guys. Bye. Bye

Most families today are familiar with the struggle of getting a child off the iPad or gaming console and on to their homework. This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent who is unsure how best to set boundaries on game time. Here’s the question:

“We just found out that over the last few months our son has charged over $700 on our credit card for his iPad games. We didn’t catch it at first. I don’t know what to do because we promised him that he can have as much video game time that he wants as long as he is getting A’s and he is! We need him to continue doing well so he can get into a good high school. If we take away his games, we are afraid that he will stop trying at school. What should we do?”

Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live.  He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com.  Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.