Recently, a class 6 student hung himself and died due to suicide after losing Rs. 40,000 in an online game called ’Free Fire’. The incident was reported from the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The confirmation of the cause of suicide came after the police found a suicide note where the boy apologized to his mother for spending Rs. 40,000 from her account while playing Free Fire.


Is your teenage son or daughter a ‘whale‘?

Well, don’t dismiss the question due to the word associated to the label. ‘Whale’ is a term that’s sometimes used among Facebook employees to refer to those children who spend hefty sums of money for in-app purchases. Whale is also a term used by casinos who pay the most and lose the most.

Whales are motivated by mobile applications and games that bait these children – who are easily the most affected and addicted – to buy virtual currency, weapons and essentially junk – using their parents’ credit/debit cards. In most cases, a scolding or two by parents stop the ordeal, but there are times when the story takes an ugly turn.

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The Facts of the Matter

Recently, a class 6 student hung himself to death as he lost Rs. 40,000 in Free Fire, an online game, in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur. The police confirmed the cause of his suicide when they found a suicide note which said that he was apologetic to his mother for spending the money and was getting depressed after continuing to lose money more and more.

Mother Scolds Son, Son Takes the Drastic Step

It all got too intense-too fast when the boy’s mother received a message where she got notified that a transaction of Rs. 1,500 was done from her account. After she scolded her son for spending money over an online game, the boy took the drastic step of hanging himself.

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Elder Sister Finds Brother Hanging in Room

The boy was found hanging in his room by his elder sister. The sister called the parents and they rushed the boy to the hospital. The boy was immediately declared dead by the doctors on his arrival. The boy’s father owns a pathology lab while the boy’s mother works in Chhatarpur district hospital’s pathology department.

Earlier last month, a 7-year-old boy from UK had spent Rs. 1.33 lakh on an iPhone game due to which his father had to sell his car. The story received the viral status and a lot of people shared memes based on the father’s expression in the subsequent pictures that were reported. The incident at Chhatarpur though, has a tragic end to it, and thus, needs to me much carefully introspected.

How to prevent children from making in-app purchases?

The case of the 13-year-old Chhatarpur boy and the 7-year-old boy are amongst hundreds and thousands of cases of such unwarranted purchases made by kids after they are hooked on these games. So how can adults prevent the youth from falling prey to being a ‘whale’? Well, it’s not that simple.

As one would imagine, it is not in the best interest of tech platforms to create safeguards that can prevent such acts as more purchases mean more revenue. But there are certain steps you can take to curb such actions.

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For Android Users

1) Open Google Play Store

2) Go to Settings and then User Controls

3) Tap Require Authentication for Purchases

4) Select All App Purchases

5) Enter Google account password

While this will not stop from in-app purchases from applications directly, it will make sure the password needs to be entered every time a purchase has to be made.

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For iOS Users

1) Go to Settings

2) Find General, and then go to Restrictions

3) Select Enable Restrictions

4) Set a passcode

5) Go to In-App Purchases in the same section and flick the switch Off