A five-year-old British boy managed to rack up $2500 in charges in just 15 minutes playing Zombies vs. Ninja on his parents’ iPad. He did it with “in app” purchases of add-ons to the “free” game. The worst part, his dad punched in the password to unlock the iPad and handed it over to the child because the little boy said the game was free.
Apple refunded the money, but this is a good reminder of why it’s not a good idea to just hand a mobile device over to a child and let him or her play. Most devices that use apps are tied to to a store with your account information (Google Marketplace, Amazon App Store, iTunes Store etc…) and if a child starts buying things, you’ll get stuck with the charges until you can straighten it all out. A friend had the experience of handing a child a Kindle Fire to watch cartoons, but in addition to watching the free cartoons, he decided to buy a few.
This also applies to your home computer. If you’ve ever made a purchase for a game like Farmville, a child playing a Facebook game on your computer or your Facebook account on another computer, could conceivably run up some big bills.
The good news is that many devices have parental controls that allow you to turn off “in app” purchases, which is always a good idea if kids are going to be playing with your device.
It’s also important to set a password for your phone, tablet and computer to make sure Junior doesn’t log on when you think he’s playing with his Legos.