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In-App Purchases: The Bill You Didn’t Want

In-App Purchases: The Bill You Didn’t Want

You follow all the recommendations for your kids and technology – you monitor what games they are playing, you limit their time screen time, you block the online chats, but the one thing you forgot to keep an eye on is their ability to make in-app purchases.

Whether it be mobile games, console games, or PC games, there is typically an option to make purchases. As a kid, you simply see it as acquiring that weapon you needed or purchasing extra coins to get you to the next level. But as a parent, you see it as a few dollars, or even a few hundred dollars, leaving your bank account. 

The problem lies not within the games themselves, but within the ease of making these purchases. If you don’t set up guards to protect yourself, you could end up with some major regrets.

Here we discuss FIVE WAYS to protect yourself and your kids from in-app overspending:

  1. Set up a separate Microsoft account specifically for your child. By creating a separate account, there is no access to bank or credit card info so they are unable to complete in-app purchases.
  2. Create passcodes or authentication factors that must be entered for any in-app purchases.
    • If using an iOS device – go to Settings > General > Restrictions and create a passcode that will be required for any purchase made in the iTunes store, Safari, and other Apple apps.
    • If using a Google device – go to the Play Store > Settings > Require Authentication for Purchases
  3. If you feel comfortable allowing your child to make purchases, consider providing a limited amount of money through your Microsoft account. This ensures they don’t overspend and also teaches responsibility in managing their money for what they most want.
  4. You can enable Airplane Mode while the child is on the device. When in airplane mode, all access to the online world is blocked. However, this can easily be disabled so It’s best for small children who do not know how to change it.

The most important tip – talk to your children.

It’s always a good idea to review apps prior to downloading. Research whether in-app purchases are available and then talk to your children about them. Explain how the in-app purchases work, that it is real money being used, and why they need to avoid overspending. 

For continued advice and learnings on how to help your family stay safe and smart with the technology you use, follow
Dale Dumbs IT Down on Instagram
Dale Dumbs IT Down on Youtube
Learn more about the why behind my journey of helping families stay safe and smart with the technology they use at https://www.daledumbsitdown.com/

Roblox, What’s It All About?

Roblox, What’s It All About?

So Roblox seems to have taken over my grandkids time and attention. This interest took me on a journey to learn more about this game. 

Roblox is an online site where you can play games created by others or create games yourself, roleplay, and develop friendships.  It has been described as a giant virtual playground.

The company claims that over half of all American kids ages 9-12 use this platform. Last year Roblox made it to the top 5 watched games on Youtube.

The interest my grand kiddos had in this site sent me on a quest to find out what parents need to know about this online game.

Just like with all other online activities, parents should stay engaged with how their child uses this site, but Roblox does have a lot to offer its young users.

Child experts have stated that Roblox is a great place to practice online, inter-connected gaming for both kids and parents.  Kids can enhance their creativity and build strategies that can transition to academic and real-life interactions.

Roblox offers the “Learn & Explore” resource, which is a series of self-paced programs designed to help kids and teens create their first Roblox games.  The site offers tutorials on coding, game development, and design.

As I spent time researching and learning more about this online game, I came to value all that it does have to offer our kids. I also realized that parental engagement and supervision would help guide our kids to get the best out of this platform.  Concerns do exist as they do with all platforms.  In this game, users can add their child to their friend’s lists and communicate with our children, and it offers in-app purchasing.  Both show a need for parental involvement, and as with most sites, too much can lead to opportunities for bad behaviors.

Five Ways to Stay Safe with Facebook

Five Ways to Stay Safe with Facebook

People often ask me, Do you use Facebook? Is it safe? I have only one answer to that, of course, I use Facebook as do 2.6 billion other people.  As for the second question, the answer is No.  Nothing is safe if you are online.  Each time we log on to Facebook or any of our other numerous accounts we agree to potential risk. For each social media account, you choose to use, do the ‘Risk vs. Reward’ test.  Is my reward (staying connected with family and friends) worth the risk (possibility of my account being breached)?  If the reward outweighs the risk then choose to minimize that risk by being safe and smart when you are using the app.

  We can minimize that risk by how we use our online accounts.  For Facebook here are five to stay safe while online.

1. Change your password often.

I’ve met many people manifesting indolence to change the password, and then, they cry and dread when someone hacks their Facebook account. But changing a password is as simple as making a cheeseburger. Select a time length and change your password. As those who follow my blogs know I use a password manager for all my accounts including Facebook.  If you don’t be consistent with changing your password.  I recommend you change your password every three to four months.

2. Keep track of suspicious activities.

If you created an account and it’s inactive your chance the account will be hacked greatly increases. Why is that? Hackers are always in search of unutilized accounts. The solution is, stop by your Facebook every two to three days. If you find any suspicious activity, don’t panic. Swiftly change your password and click “log out of other devices” when Facebook asks you. Then, delete all the suspicious activities.

3. Choose your friends wisely.

Never accept friend requests from people you don’t know.  If you use your account for reasons other than personal connections be wary of friend requests that contain blurry images, a name that seems fictional or you recognize a celebrity picture as the profile picture.  For friend requests of people, you don’t know, review their ‘About’ section to see if anything seems off. If a Facebook friends account keeps sending you suspicious links, don’t open any of them, notify your friend it never hurts to just unfriend him/her.  If you haven’t done so for a while, take time and review your friend list, then unfriend with people you don’t know at all.

4. Adjust your privacy setting.

Make sure to review the privacy checkup. Verify if you have the option selected not to have a friend request from everyone, and your login alerts are on. When you update your “About” or “Contact” information, confirm it multiple times if the information is only visible to you or your friends with whom you want to share. Do not provide any personal information on Facebook (e.g., bank information)

5. Use two-factor authentication.

Using Two-factor authentication is always a yes in my book. Here’s a quick overview of how it works.  Let’s say you have a two-factor authentication option selected. Then what? If anyone tries to break into your account, you will instantly receive an alert notification on your cellphone, email, and text message. This notification will ask you, “if you’re trying to log in to your account from approximate XYZ location and XYZ device.” If you click NO, the hacker will fail to log in.

You can never be completely safe while online but you can certainly do your part to minimize risk.

For continued advice and learnings on how to help your family stay safe and smart with the technology you use, follow

Dale Dumbs IT Down on Instagram
Dale Dumbs IT Down on Youtube

Learn more about the why behind my journey of helping families stay safe and smart with the technology they use at https://www.daledumbsitdown.com/

College Scholarship Scams

College Scholarship Scams

Right now, many students in between their junior and senior years of high school are getting a head start on applying for college scholarships. The internet makes this process much more convenient for today’s students, and it provides them the ability to access opportunities they likely never would have discovered without it. Unfortunately, the anxiety of financial planning and researching the perfect colleges on top of trying to keep one’s grades up can lead to a desperation that puts a student’s guard down and makes them vulnerable to common scholarship scams found online.

How can you spot these hoaxes and differentiate between them and the real deal? Thankfully, there are some common formulas that they typically follow. A very common tactic college scholarship scams will use is asking you to pay in order to apply. This may be disguised as a processing fee or an insurance fee. Any company offering a legitimate scholarship will never charge an upfront application fee. In this same vein, you may have come across an offer for an educational loan that asks you to pay before receiving the loan itself. Oftentimes this particular con will offer you an astoundingly low-interest rate for a student loan only to ask you to pay before you actually receive it. Legitimate student loans will simply deduct the required fee from the reimbursement check.

Be suspicious of awards you don’t remember applying for. Scam artists will email you and try to dazzle you with promises of thousands of dollars in college scholarships that they claim you applied for, but then they’ll ask that you simply pay a redemption fee in order to claim them. Many of these college scholarship scams have duped students via emails that congratulated them on their winnings but also forbade them from collecting anything before they paid the “application fee”.

But not all college scholarship scams will explicitly ask for your child’s hard-earned money. Some will go after their personal information as well. Many websites will ask that you sign up for an account before they give you access to scholarship information, which can require your name, email address, and phone number. Whenever possible, use sites that don’t expect you to give them your contact information in order to actually view scholarship opportunities if you haven’t researched the company in advance. They may sell your information to third parties for marketing purposes. And never trust a so-called scholarship provider that asks for you or your child’s social security number, credit card number, or bank account number.

You’re likely wondering which websites have established themselves as reputable, trusted sources for scholarship opportunities. All of the following websites are free to use and tend to have positive reviews:

Scholarships.com has been in business helping students fund their education for 21 years and was given an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. It boasts 2.7 million awards in its database.

FastWeb.com was founded 15 years ago and was also given an A+ rating by the BBB. This site is considered one of the top 3 scholarship search websites.

BrokeScholar.com is a much newer service in this vein. However, it claims to have over 650,000 awards in its database and is generally highly reviewed.

Planning for college should be an exciting time for your kids, so it’s a good idea to make sure that this process won’t be tainted by experiencing scams along the way.  

Oh, Snap!  It’s Time to Talk Snapchat!

Oh, Snap! It’s Time to Talk Snapchat!

Kids, teens, and young adults these days are all about capturing and sharing life’s moments with one another. Whether it’s what they ate for lunch, some funny thing their dog did, or their latest heartbreak, Snapchat offers an outlet to showcase their experiences, one “snap” at a time. The appeal behind Snapchat is that “snaps,” or messages sent and received within the app, disappear after an allotted amount of time. More on that later.

Snapchat allows users to connect with friends, play games, read the news, watch entertaining videos, and take fun quizzes, all on top of sharing little slices of your day and spicing them up with photo and video editing tools. However, there are some downsides to its features that teens and young children may not be aware of.

●  Snap Map – Unless otherwise disabled (also known as Ghost Mode), Snap Map allows Snapchat users to view their friends’ locations on a map. While this may be convenient in some situations, many kids may add people they don’t know personally to their friends’ list. Strangers knowing the whereabouts of your child is enough to rattle any parent.

●  Snapstreaks – A Snapstreak occurs when two users have “snapped” each other within 24 hours for 3 days in a row. Both begin to receive points toward their Snapchat score, which allows them to buy features in the Snap store, exclusive emojis, and other kinds of rewards. This can lead to anxiety and peer pressure issues from other kids to keep up the streak, and also take a massive amount of time from their day.

●  Discover – Snapchat Discover is the place where celebrities, news outlets, and other users post their stories and snaps. Unless your child signed up using their correct birthdate, some of the ads in between posts could contain mature content. People are often offered quizzes to take, which are usually some kind of marketing tool. Other stories may ask to “swipe up” to learn more, and the pages you are led to often contain more ads.

●  Snapcash – Snapchat allows users to send money to each other via the app. No explanation is needed as to how this could cause a problem.

The biggest issue with Snapchat is the misnomer that snaps will disappear forever after they are viewed. This is not the case. Anyone who has access to your snaps can take a screenshot of the picture on their phone. You can view how many times your image has been viewed and the number of times a screenshot has been taken. Once it’s out there, it’s out of your hands.

There isn’t a method to view your kid’s activity like there are on other social media platforms. Besides turning off location services and limiting who can see your story, there aren’t ways to filter how the app is used. The best method is to talk with your child about privacy and safety, and explain to them that these kinds of apps can be fun, but must be used carefully.

For continued advice and learnings on how to help your family stay safe and smart with the technology you use, follow

Dale Dumbs IT Down on Instagram
Dale Dumbs IT Down on Youtube

Learn more about the why behind my journey of helping families stay safe and smart with the technology they use at https://www.daledumbsitdown.com/

Twitching about Twitch

Twitching about Twitch

Livestreaming is taking over the world of online entertainment, especially for gamers, and the platform called Twitch is dominating the field.

I’ve been twitching about Twitch as I just didn’t feel comfortable talking about it as I didn’t yet know the ins and outs of this site, thus the twitching.  I knew some, I just didn’t know as much as I should, especially as a parent of a teen.  I finally took the time to learn more about this popular site and there is A LOT of parents need to know.  

You can find almost anything on Twitch to watch, such as people sharing or creating artwork, TV channels showing reruns of old episodes, live vloggers, and everything in between. But how much of this content is safe for kids?  

You can view any Twitch stream for free with no account signup. However, some channels are marked as “mature” by their owners. Only accepting that you are of age, whether you are or not, allows you to view the channel. Signing up for a free account allows you to participate in a channel’s chat room. The chat cannot be turned off, only hidden. However, if the creator has “follower-only” or “sub-only” chat turned on, you can read it, but you cannot post anything. Following a channel means you are notified when that channel goes live. Subscribing to one requires you to pay a monthly fee to support the creator, starting at $4.99 per month. You also get special emotes and usually a shoutout on the stream. 

Some channels have automatic bots, and sometimes real people, acting as moderators in the chat to keep an eye on any kind of language or arguments the creator deems inappropriate. Those with special privileges can either delete comments or ban a user entirely from the channel. Users can set their own profanity filters if they so desire, but other than that and the discretion of the moderators, there are no other ways to filter content for young viewers. There is also no time limit setting. During my view time I witnessed way too much profanity from the people I was watching, which parents should be aware of.

Participants can donate to content creators in multiple ways, such as donations, “bits” (another form of digital currency), and by subscribing to the channel if they have access to a credit card or PayPal account. Some channels will have links in their descriptions that lead to outside sites where donations can be accepted.

Only certain content creators can have subscribers. It involves gaining enough followers over a period of time. Some will entice users to subscribe or follow by wearing skimpy clothing, promising exclusive content, or other rewards. Some will play certain games requested by their audience, which may include violent or sexual acts. Twitch has certain policies in place to block the most offensive of content, but things will slip through the cracks at times. 

Twitch allows people to feel like they are connected to the person they are watching. Some also make friends with others in the chat room of a particular streamer, so educate your children on the risks of meeting virtual strangers. As are most things in life, Twitch is best enjoyed with supervision and in moderation.  

Parents please be in the know with what your kids are viewing, one way is to ensure they don’t use headphones when viewing so you can hear the conversation.  My personal opinion is that Twitch should be 18 and older not 13 and older.

For continued advice and learnings on how to help your family stay safe and smart with the technology you use, follow

Dale Dumbs IT Down on Instagram
Dale Dumbs IT Down on Youtube

Learn more about the why behind my journey of helping families stay safe and smart with the technology they use at https://www.daledumbsitdown.com/

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin