Beware the Virtual Mall

Just because your teens aren’t hanging out at the mall, don’t presume they can’t run up your credit card bill.  In fact, it may very well be that they are part of the population of online virtual worlds racking up a whopping — dare I say mind-blowing? — 7 billion dollars in sales of virtual goods in 2010 alone.  Yes, you read that right — in the midst of a huge economic crisis, people have spent 7 billion (with a “B”) dollars on stuff that isn’t even real.

It’s not a fluke, either; according to research company In-Stat, revenues from sales of virtual goods will more than double over the next three years.  And if you’re scoffing at that prediction, note that Forbes Magazine is running an article on a man who spent more than $300,000 on a single piece of virtual property.  Yes, real money for imaginary land.  So you might want to check in with your kids; even though you haven’t seen any Amazon packages on your porch, they could still be blowing their college fund online.

Of course, there is an upside to all this.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, your kids are in their rooms, plugged into one of these virtual worlds, creating the items the other users are buying.

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