MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Can kids buy anything they want?

MSE_Martin Posts: 8,273
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
Money Saving Expert
This week's Money Moral Dilemma

A 13-year-old wants to buy a laptop to have internet access directly in their room. (S)he's saved up for it with pocket money and doing odd jobs. Their parents are concerned about unfettered web access (and the kid’s smart enough that they could work round any child protection). However, they’ve worked hard and diligently saved and argue it’s their cash. Should they be free to?

Click reply to enter the money moral maze

Please remember, be polite to other MoneySavers, even if you disagree with them

Also read last week's MMD: Would you get them sacked?

PS. And just to confirm this is an entirely hypothetical situation. Each week in the email I will be asking those questions. And yes, the lack of detail, the phrasing, all of it is deliberate to envoke debate (nice debate too). Enjoy the money moral maze.
Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • kuniform
    kuniform Posts: 13 Forumite
    At the end of the day, it's up to the parents to decide how much they trust the child or how much they trust their ability to protect/restrain the child's activities.

    Just because a child has saved up enough money doesn't give the child free license to go and buy anything they want. Clearly for the price of a laptop, they could afford any number of illegal or illicit products which the parents would be legally obliged not to allow or help the child to buy.

    It's completely the parents decision, and it's up to them to be as fair as they want to be. It would be nice if they had discussed exactly what could and couldn't be bought by the child before hand.

    If the child should try to guilt trip the parents into allowing him/her to buy the laptop, then it's up to the parents to explain exactly why they felt the child was too irresponsible/naive etc. to have the laptop.

    And of course, the perennial favourite, "Because I said so, that's why."
  • Agree with the above absolutely. It's our duty to protect and guide them.
    (AKA HRH_MUngo)
    Member #10 of £2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
  • I don't think stopping the child from buying the laptop is the solution to prevent illicit interent access. If he/she feels he is not trusted, he will try to gain access via other means. Plenty of internet cafe / kiosk around who allow access to anyone who have a £1 coin in their hand..

    Trust your child, talk to your child and guide your child is the solution.
  • rich0148
    rich0148 Posts: 15 Forumite
    Check out Net Nanny -

    We use it at work and only the system admin knows the password to unlock it.

    The only way she can crack it is if you give her the password or she is full blown hacker!
  • timbouk
    timbouk Posts: 245 Forumite
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  • ojock
    ojock Posts: 5 Forumite
    Naturally as a moneysaver, I would say yes it's your cash, and it's my cash that's used to pay for heating and electricity - so you can contribute towards paying some of that as's good for them not to take a blinkered approach when it comes to purchases!
  • madmamma
    madmamma Posts: 13 Forumite
    My feelings would be that if my child has saved up that much money then they deserve my trust. I doubt they want a laptop to do anything I consider dodgy but I'd talk to them about net safety etc first. At some point you have to trust them. I'd encourage them to share anything with me that they weren't sure about and, just to be on the safe side, put netnanny or something on the laptop!
  • This won't work for everyone, but:

    Praise the child for saving their money and open them a good kids saving account and tell them to put the money in there.

    Then buy (using your money - not the childs) a 'family' desktop computer and put it in the lounge/dining room (a family room) where supervision is easier.

    Of course, still install the filtering/monitoring software mentioned above.

    The child will be happy as they have a new PC, they still have their money (earning interest!) and might not be too bothered about not being able to use it in their room.

    Another suggestion would be to buy a laptop but not have wireless internet access meaning they can only use the internet by plugging in a cable which could be based in a family room.

  • The point is not to trust or not the child. If he as saved money for a laptop thats Ok, but does it need to have it in his bedroom? The temptation of surfing the net in area not appropriate is greator in the privacy of their rooms away from their parents. Let be honest most of us have done similar things in our own time !

    rather than to refuse the laptop , make a can have it , but not in your room !! That way both side should be happy. The child is truted, the parent authority is not undermind and mum and dad knows exactly what the child is surfing. After all if a child wants to do thing behind our back they`ll do it, but why given them the temptation when its not needed.

    a caring parent
  • IClaudius
    IClaudius Posts: 1,531
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Wow! Couldn't believe it when I saw this thread as this is exactly the dilemma we have at the moment. 13 Yr old son has enough and has saved (really hard I might add). My dilemma isn't what he will or won't surf, 2 reasons here, he doesn't yet feel the need to explore (I know he will do and it will be a matter of months possibly weeks) but even when he does, as Timbouk says, pctattletale will assist greatly here, but the real dillemma is that I won't see him! :D
    He's not yet "flown the nest" to his bedroom so to speak :rolleyes: but if he moves from the family desktop to the solitary laptop, we can forget seeing him apart from the odd meal and pot wash :rotfl:
    I did sit down with him the other night and explain my thoughts and he was very understanding but...
    And I don't want to start putting time limits / curfews on him because we did all that with his PS2 when he was younger. He's a lot more mature now and we have lately been able to avoid setting restrictions on things, leaving it much more to him making his own informed choices.
    Still with a brand new Tosh in his room :eek:

    oh dear...have said we'll talk further.
    Will be watching this thread with interest though
    "Sumptus censum ne superet"

    Mental blocks are just hurdles to overcome in life.

    Yeah..whatever :rolleyes:
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