That is correct. My Five year old son who has only ever played Minecraft, Mario Kart, and Halo 3 at LAN parties knows what micro transactions are. Recently my wife and I noticed that he began talking about how much things cost. He would say things like.
This is really expensiveness, This cost a lot of money, or This costs too much money.
At first we where unsure of where this type of conversation was stemming from. We are relatively solid middle class and money is not a huge pressure in our life. We do have nice things and we try to be savvy in how we spend money. The conversation about how much things cost or spending money in general does not come up around him. The only basis for a conversation around pricing my son would have originates from letting him make purchasing decisions with a set amount of money to spend. Working with him on making decision based on amount of money spent against the value or quantity of goods he is allowed to make a selection from.
So when this recent commentary from him began about items of his being expensive, going as far as he even telling someone in a store that something we had was expensive My wife and I where perplexed.
After a couple weeks of this going on my wife and I while sitting and playing with him one afternoon after school began to unravel this mystery. We where playing with his Halo action figures. During this playtime he made a comment about how expensive this gun was and that gun was. That was when my wife connected the dots.
Recently he had been coming home from school and T-Ball practice and talking about Fortnight. He has been asking my wife when he was going to be able to play fortnight. Apparently a couple of his five year old peers are playing the game already. When this had started happening a couple of months ago my wife had told him that he was not allowed to play fortnight. I have the game downloaded in my epic store launcher and have played perhaps a dozen rounds of the game.
Fortnight is not something that he has ever been exposed to in our home. Additionally he has never been exposed to any sort of micro transaction in our household as well.
We began to talk to him about why he thought that guns that his Spartans had where expensive. The connection was made. Our Son was talking about things being expensive and referencing this as a status symbol, due to conversations he was having with several of his Five year old peers at school. His peers where talking about how much they played the game, how good they are at playing the game, and lastly that they where buying cools things in the game. I am sure that some of content in these conversations that he is having is being lost in the translation back to me. At this point he has never seen the game and we headed down to my office so he could see what the game looked like.
That was when things got a little surreal. When I loaded up the game that he has never seen and began to start a match up, he asked me to pick a different character. When I said I didn’t have any he asked if I could changed the outfit that the character was wearing. When I said I didn’t have any other outfits, he asked if I could buy one.
In the small amount of video game experiences that he has had over the course of his short five year life span he has never been around a game that allows for this sort of customization. I was truly in awe at how much the little guy new about the game. It is startling to me that five year old children are playing the game to such a great degree that they can communicate and describe it to other children that have never played in enough detail that the child already has a rough understanding of certain functions of the game bearing in mind they have never having seen it in person.
This really begs to question what other parents in the community are up to with there little children. My wife and I limit the amount of time that our son has in front of screens. This is something I have written and talked about in the past. It can quickly began to affect the attitude and behavior of a child and we want to ensure that he has the maximum opportunities for as much development pre-k as possible before he heads into the education system that is going to be granting him massive amount of access to screens and screen time.
It makes me shudder to think how pervasive Loot boxes and Micro-transactions have become. These things are now part of the playground chatter and social status indicators for toddlers on the playground.