If you give your child your iTunes password, expect them to spend hundreds of dollars

Have you seen news of outraged parents in the United States who’re apparently aiming to try and sue Apple for making their children run up large in-app-purchase bills?

The Telegraph has the story:

The parents argue that Apple made it too easy for children to spend on digital items such as “smurfberries” in the game Smurfs Village without the “authorisation of their parents”.

Right. But we all know how this works. You can only buy stuff if you’ve got the iTunes username and password. Job done. If you give your child the password to your account, it’s now you’re responsibility for what they do with it. It’s not Apple’s problem.

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  • http://gadgeteer.org.uk Stephen Wing

    Actually, it’s not that simple; even if you keep the password to yourself they can purchase things; if you download a new app (or updates) by providing your iTunes password, there is then a 15 minute (I think this is the figure) period when it’s cached and won’t ask again.

    So, you download Smurfs Village for the little darling, they go straight into the app and select to purchase lots of smurfberries, and it uses the cached credentials to buy it on your card / account.

    The only solution is to fully disable in app purchases, though that may not stop the child being able to purchase more apps during the cached period.

    It’s a while since I’ve looked into this issue, so things may have changed with the latest iOS releases, but certainly in the past the ability to purchase in app tokens could happen without the password.

    So, maybe it is Apple’s problem…

  • Mike42

    Like Stephen said, it is Apples problem. The lack of a ‘child mode’ is the single biggest failing of iOS in my opinion.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Stephen that’s a point well made — the fundamental, though, is it’s up to the parent!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    That’s the single biggest failing? THAT? ;-)

  • Dylan

     Couldn’t agree more Ewan

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    thanks Dylan!

  • http://jimwild.net/ jimwild

    Its like telling everyone your pin number, giving out your bank card then complaining when you account gets cleaned out.

    If you want to get round the 15 minute issue then just download the game and log out of the AppStore, its 1 button and takes seconds to do. Simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulcockerton Paul Cockerton

    A fair point, but I’ve also seen apps where the price of in app purchases goes $0.99, $0.99c, $0.99, $9.99, $0.99 – the app developers deliberately obfuscating the higher priced items in the hope that someone mistakenly spends more money than they intended to. Take a very dim view of this.

  • http://twitter.com/rvcs Rick Smith

    I’ve often been tempted to give my kids the username/password – so they can buy “just one song please, dad” – but refused everytime because I can see the pitfalls ahead of them/me.

    The solution – get them their own account. But they don’t have a bank account – and there’s no child mode. What I’ve done is to buy an iTunes Gift Card (£15 or £25) and then create them a new account and put the gift card on to that account. That way, they can spend this limited amount of money against their own user credentials and it gives them the responsibility to manage the account. 

    So far, it’s worked really well. I do need to remember to log out of my account each time though

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Oh that’s useful to know

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    That is a good idea!

  • http://www.i2SMS.com/ Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS

    Agree, Ewan.  I learned the hard way with the Kindle Fire. At first you want to blame Apple or Amazon.  In the end, it is the parent’s responsibility.  Might be hard for some to swallow, but you can’t be relying on others to parent for you…

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