How smurfing angry would you be at your kid if she spent $1,500 on in-app upgrades after finding out your iTunes password?
Unlike yesterday’s big-haired family who were unable to wiggle out of a $1,700 XBox Live charge, however, the family of 8-year-old Madison Kay will be able to get a refund from Apple after their grade schooler went on an expensive “Smurfberry binge” playing Smurfs’ Village over Christmas break. The Washington Post points out a fifteen-minute window after an iTunes password is entered during which kids can go effing crazy with your credit card, and an advocate for- oh, I don’t know- preventing kids from going on app spending sprees- explains why this is a problem for parents’ whose kids have iPods:
“Parents need to know that the promotion of games and the delivery mechanism for them are deceptively cheap,” said Jim Styer, president of Common Sense Media, a public advocacy group for online content for children. “But basically people are trying to make money off these apps, which is a huge problem, and only going to get bigger because mobile apps are the new platform for kids.”
Capcom Interactive, the game’s maker, called the loophole “lamentable.” While kidless folk might say that parents should keep a better eye on their anklebiters, any parent who has shelled out a couple of hundred bucks for the pricey devices will probably tell you 15 minutes in which your kid is out of your hair is the whole reason parents buy iPods in the first place.
Although Capcom Interactive says the high charges aren’t meant to bait kids, bushels of Smurfberries and snowflakes on the game range can cost $20 or even $100. Do you think parents should be liable when kids go crazy and buy expensive app enhancements?