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As a child, I used to get in trouble for a variety of reasons.  I did not enjoy playing Barbies with my little sister, which would hurt her feelings, so my mom would tell me I had to play with her anyway.  I would also hit my sister, so my mother taught her to fight back.  (Eventually, I stopped hitting her, partly out of maturity and partly because it was no longer fun for me to play the bully.)  I always kept a disastrously messy room, so I would be grounded and not be able to spend time with my friends.  I was terrible about losing things, in part due to my messy tendencies, and so I would get fussed at endlessly (or so it seemed at the time).  But I can’t remember a time when I got in trouble for trying to purchase something electronically without my mother’s permission.

Last night, however, that is exactly what my eight year old son did on eBay.

I have been fairly lenient on him due to the fact that he is a fairly intelligent child with a good heart.  He misbehaves like any child, but for the most part he hates to disappoint people.  Plus, between 2010 and 2011, my sweet boy had his father in his life on a regular basis for the first time, then lost him due to his father’s abusive and hurtful ways.  It’s a long story, but my Zachary now says he has no father, even though his father is alive and well somewhere.  Since all of the drama with his father, I have been especially lenient, and last night I paid for it – almost literally.

Zack had been taught by someone (not me) that if you bid on an item on eBay, you can help draw other bidders to a seller’s item.  I have just started trying to be successful by selling on eBay, so last night he decided he would try to help me.  He created an account on eBay, looked up black fur coats similar to the vintage lambs wool coat I am currently selling, then bid on one!  He realized his mistake immediately, and tried to undo it.  When he couldn’t he came to me.  I, of course, was completely blown away.  It never occurred to me that my child would do something like this.  I immediately started trying to rectify the situation.  I sent a message to the seller asking him/her to please delete the bid, and explaining that the account was created by a minor.  Hopefully that is all I need to do in this situation.  Once Zack is either outbid or the seller deletes his bid, I intend to delete his account, which should never have been created in the first place.

I also grounded Zack from the computer, tv, and video games until this weekend as a consequence.  I explained to him that a bid on eBay is like a legally binding contract.  You should never bid on something if: a.) you don’t have the money to purchase the item, and/or b.) you don’t intend to actually purchase the item.  I told him that the idea of “bidding up” an item is iffy, at best.  There is no guarantee that bidding on something will draw other bidders to an item, and it’s cheating, anyway.  I’m not even sure if it’s a practice that is allowed on eBay.  As a further consequence (but really more for his protection – and mine), I created a new user account on the computer that he uses most often with strict parental controls, and changed the password on my account.  He will not be able to log on during certain periods on the day and night, he won’t be able to play certain games, and eBay is blocked.  I should have done that a long time ago, but I have been acting on the premise that I can trust my child.  I still believe I can trust him in many situations, but the reality is the internet is a dangerous place.  I’m lucky he misbehaved on eBay, and was not pursued by some creepy internet pedophile.

I think he and I both learned valuable lessons from this incident.  Only time will tell, as they say.

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