Bad Apple? Who’s To Blame For Kids’ In-Game Shopping Sprees?

Posted on 13. Mar, 2013 by in For Parents, For Teachers

By Lynette Owens

The following is an excerpt from a guest post that originally appeared in  Forbes on March 11.

This is a story about Apple and a group of angry parents whose kids did something they shouldn’t have.

It involves allegedly deceptive marketing practices, app-loving minors, parents who can afford to let their kids have or use Apple devices, and a class-action lawsuit against one of the most cash rich companies in the world.

But the story within this story is one that underscores the challenge we face in helping our kids be safe and responsible tech enthusiasts: Whose job is it?

The Root of the Problem

In April 2011, five parents took issue with Apple because they believed the company tricked their kids into racking up hundreds of dollars in credit-card charges playing supposedly free games.  Once they were hooked, kids could easily continue the fun by buying items or more time with the tap of a screen.

Apple says that while games are often free to download, there will be options to use real money while playing it.  There are two features in iOS to stop this: a restriction that turns off in-app purchasing and a password required for any charge on the iTunes account for that device. (The second of these features was added right around the time the lawsuit was filed.)

However, we may never see these arguments play out in court. In the end, Apple chose not to fight the battle and agreed to a $100 million settlement.  Even to the technology novice, it is clear there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Read the full story on Forbes here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Bad Apple? Who’s To Blame For Kids’ In-Game Shopping Sprees?”

  1. Aggamemnon

    08. Apr, 2013

    I concur with the statement “It is clear there’s plenty of blame to go around”. However it is not just Apple that has disregarded moral based rules when dealing with children. For example there is Steam which is a gaming platform that hosts online gaming.

    Unfortunately this is also an area of concern for the safety and well being of children. There seems to be little if any monitoring done by Steam? This behavior by large corporations seems to be generic and their focus is on Profit and not Client safety. It is a shame this is so prevalent in todays society.

  2. Doug ferguson

    26. Apr, 2013

    Parents, of course. My son has an iPod touch and if he wants to buy anything via the App Store or make any in-app purchases, he needs to pony up for an iTunes gift card and add it to his account. All parents that don’t adopt this philosophy are doomed to having loser kids who are duped by deceptive ads. Had those kids been forced to come up with their own means to buy the items in question, it would be a different story.

    What will happen next time something like this comes to a head? I hope apple doesn’t become an enabler.