Why is my Dad unable to understand Online Purchases?

It was, and still is, a recurring discussion in our household, in-game purchases. As my brother and I are both people with gaming as our main hobby, the phenomenon of in-game purchases is one that occurs quite frequently. One thing that we can both be sure of, is that whenever we make such a purchase, we can always count on our mom and dad to have two very different reactions.

The most simple exchange of words would look like this:

Me: Mom! Dad! I’m buying a League of Legends skin for 10 euros! That’s okay, right?

Mom: Yea sure sweety, it’s your own money.

Dad: I can’t believe that you would spend so much money on online things!

Why is my dad so opposed to online purchases?

Parents Greatest Fears

The greatest fear of any parent seems to be their young child spending thousands of euros without their knowing. For example, let’s take a look at a family living in London. Their eleven-year-old son had, without his mother’s knowledge, looked over her shoulder while she was typing her bank account password. Just like that, he proceeded to spend a total of 1,200 dollars on in-game ‘power bundles’. Luckily, the bank decided to refund the full amount, but this is usually not done as ‘bought is bought’. Young children, who do not yet know the true value of money, seem to be easy prey for accidents like this.

What is my Dad’s Fear?

But I am not a small child. At this point, I’m a 19-year-old adult who definitely knows how much money I should, and should not, spend. That’s why I personally have a hard time letting such comments from my dad slide. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with in-game purchases, as it’s just me buying stuff for the things I love doing. I usually try to explain this to my dad as well.

Then a discussion like this follows:

Me: Dad it’s just me buying an item for my hobby, nothing weird right? If I liked soccer, and I would purchase a nice soccer ball, would you still find it strange?

Dad: That’s not a comparison that you can make! A ball is real and your skins aren’t!

Me: My skin is real as well, just not physically in my hands, but in-game.

Dad: Well…I wouldn’t risk it, as soon as the game doesn’t exist anymore in the future, all of your money will be gone!

This last remark perfectly shows my dad’s greatest fear. It’s not me spending thousands of euros on a game, it’s just simply the disappearance of the game itself.

Generation Gap

This is where I personally think that the generation gap (and a lack of understanding) kicks in. For my dad it’s really simple; The physical world is real and the online world is not real. For me and my brother, it is extremely different. The online world is mainly an extension of the real world, just less tangible. And even though it is not tangible, it is something we grew up with, it has always been there. For my dad, it’s different, the online world has not always been there. It came up really fast and it seems like he thinks that there is still the risk that it goes down again at the same speed. In my dad’s eyes, that what is not physically in your hands, is easy to disappear.

I’ve had this discussion with my dad many times already.

At this point, I’ve given up trying to convince him that League of Legends will not just be taken offline.


Brey, Philip. The Physical and Social Reality of Virtual Worlds. The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. 2014.