A five year old boy in the UK made £1700 ($2550) of in-app purchases in a freemium game in just 15 minutes after asking his father to type in the password for a free download.
The Zombies vs Ninja game was a free download, but with £70 ($105) in-app purchases for game keys and weapons packs. Neither the 5-year-old, Danny Kitchen, nor his parents were aware of the charges being racked up as the child played.
“He was very upset when he realized what he had done,” Danny’s mother Sharon Kitchen said, “His brothers and sisters were telling him off, but of course he didn’t know what he did – he’s only five.”
Apple did refund the charges, but it highlights the steps parents must take to protect themselves, and their bank accounts from the lure of freemium games aimed at kids.
How did Danny feel about all this? “I was worried and I felt sad. I’m banned from the iPad now.”
This report comes just days after Apple settled a U.S. lawsuit over the same issue, as they offered customers an iTunes credit of at least $5, with cash amounts available to customers who had claims of more than $30.
As of iOS 4.3, Apple separated app and in-App purchases, so it’s not entirely clear how Danny was able to purchase in-app content if his father had only entered the password to allow Danny to download the app. The password should have been required a second time to allow the in-app purchases.
Parents, should be aware that Apple provides a variety of parental controls and restriction tools built in to iOS to help lessen the possibility of issues such as this, allowing parents to restrict what types of content may be used on the device, turn off app downloads or in-app purchases, and require the account password for every app or in-app transaction.
These settings can be accessed under “Settings”; “General”; “Restrictions.” The section you’re looking for can be seen above.