Kids and computer games: Watch your credit card bill

If you're a parent, that means you have children (my drum-tight logic is amazing, isn't it?), and if you have children, they just may be playing online computer games.

So I thought I'd offer my money tip of the day: check your bank account and see if you're paying monthly charges for these games. Last night, I was perusing our bank account online, as I often do, and I started grumbling about the amount of online games my wife had been buying for our kids. Only problem, as I soon discovered, is that my wife had no idea what I was talking about. For a few minutes, we found ourselves wondering if our seven-year-old daughter had figured out how to purchase online games.

But, no, it turns out that one of the charges is a monthly $7.99 subscription charge to an online game, JumpStart 3D Virtual World , made by a company called Knowledge Adventure. I'm not ripping on them. They have a software-and-Internet-connected game, and it seems like a somewhat educational way to kill time. The game seems to be ever-changing, and my daughters both love it. But I had no idea we were paying money for it every month.

My parents bought it for our kids at Christmas, and so I just thought that the money involved ended with them buying the gift. But apparently when my wife set it up, she set a monthly subscription in motion (I still haven't figured out how she did that, since she obviously had to give out our credit card information).

Meanwhile, we're also paying $9.99 a month to something called BigFishGames. My wife had no idea, although she initiated the payment with that as well. Clearly, I'm going to be calling them soon and seeing exactly what we're paying for.

Anyway, my point isn't to trash online games or (honest, honey) my spouse. I just have a feeling that I'm not alone out there. In 2007, the last figures apparently available, the online gaming market reached $8.6 billion, increasing over 30% every year, with it expected to reach $19.1 billion in 2011, and my guess is that clueless parents making these monthly payments is at least one of the reasons for that growth.
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