With the steady proliferation of free-to-play games that live on in-game purchases, it's easy for anyone to spend a pretty penny trying to make it to the next level, especially a kid. Before you know it, your child has inadvertently spent $99 on a barrel of Smurfberries in "Smurf Village." The folks at VirtualPiggy have created an elegant solution that allows your child to continue playing without sending you to the poorhouse.
Described as an eWall, VirtualPiggy allows parents to set spending limits for their children for their favorite games. Guardians simply create accounts for their children and enter the name of their child's favorite game. From there, parents attach a credit card or a bank account and billing information to the account and designate a spending limit. Now when Junior goes to buy that expensive upgrade, they'll be denied if it's over the set limit. Adults who want to make sure their kid isn't squandering away their money can also request to receive notifications for each purchase with the power to approve or deny the charge. Parents can also see a report of their child's spending habits via the dashboard.
The software can be used for more than gaming, though. During our hands-on, we learned that the company has deals in place with a growing number of kid-friendly vendors such as K'Nex. So if the child has a favorite store, it can also be added to the list for simple one-click shopping. VirtualPiggy is COPPA-compliant (Children Online Privacy Protection Act), so parents don't have to worry about sensitive information such as name and address being passed on to a vendor. Clicking on the VirtualPiggy button accesses the shipping info provided by the parent during sign up.
Another cool feature is the wishlist, which works like a bridal or baby registry. Instead of having family and friends guess what to get a child for a birthday or other special occasion, parents can grant certain people access to the child's list and make their purchase. Our favorite parts of the program are the charity and savings features. In addition to kid-friendly vendors, VirtualPiggy has also teamed with child-appropriate charities that the child can donate to. Children and parents can set a goal for a child to donate and watch their progress via a slowly filling piggy bank. The savings feature works in a similar fashion, except this money goes into the child's pocket for a later purchase.
VirtualPiggy is a great way for kids to learn the value of a dollar while protecting their privacy and parent's wallets.