While adults have the ability to pause and reflect on whether or not a virtual pet is a necessity, a six-year-old is probably going to see that digital dog and immediately want it, and need to have it. Or a pair of twins that age managed to spend $1,600 of their parents’ money through in-app purchases while playing a game on an iPad.
A father in the U.K. tells The Telegraph that his twins racked up enough extras — ranging from £2.50 to as much as £75 — to ding him with a total charge £979.90, around $1,600 U.S.
“Children don’t understand the value of money, they just see it as a way of collecting more pets and clothes for characters in the games. “I mean, who in their right mind is going to pay £75 for a virtual pet?”
(Answer: A six-year-old with a twin to egg him or her on.)
He and his wife received notification emails from Apple at the end of the weekend, listing the four pages of purchases.
So why wasn’t his iPad password-protected? Surely that could’ve kept his kids at bay. After all, back in 2011, Apple changed its policy to require a password to purchase in-app items, partly due to incidents like this one.
There was a password, said the dad — but the kids already knew it from using the iPad for work or other play. And that’s beside, he says: Apps should ask for a credit card number for in-game purchases, or really, anything to make it harder for kids to buy without their parents’ consent.
“They were just prompted to enter the password, and that’s what they kept doing,” he said. “These games are aimed at children and the designers know exactly what’s going to happen.”
Twins rack up £1,000 iPad bill buying virtual pets [The Telegraph]