“Do in-app purchases take advantage of children and inadvertently cost parents way more money than they intended to spend? US Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) is worried that they do, and he has asked the Federal Trade Commission to look at the in-app purchase process offered by Apple and Google to see whether games that offer in-app purchases are unfairly marketed towards kids,” Jacqui Cheng reports for Ars Technica.
“Stories about children inadvertently spending thousands of dollars inside of their parents’ iPhone apps have circulated around the Web over the last year or so,” Cheng reports. “Parents need to enter a password the first time in order to authorize a purchase (or an app download), but iOS devices don’t ask for the password again until some period of time has passed, leaving eager kids to their own devices if parents aren’t careful.”
Cheng reports, “This phenomenon is hardly new, though it has gained more attention recently thanks to coverage from the mainstream press. That coverage is what led Markey to pen his letter (PDF) to the FTC, asking it to review the issue and possibly educate consumers about the dangers of in-app purchases. He also asked the Commission to determine whether Apple, Google, and app developers are engaging in deceptive marketing practices when they advertise games to kids.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: This is a real issue and it should go without saying that parents need to discuss the ramifications with their kids or not give them their password. Still, Apple needs to do a better job of preventing kids from making such purchases, perhaps by making it very costly to developers who attempt to take advantage of children. Tell developers that repeat offenders will lose App Store access, enforce it, and such unscrupulous practices will decline precipitously.
Of course, there’s always Settings>General>Restrictions>In-App Purchases “Off.”