There are thousands of apps for children available at iTunes – and many of them are free to download. However, parents need to be aware and BEWARE of the ”in-app” purchases that can be made – even on FREE kids apps. (In-app purchases mean that once you are playing an app, you can spend real money on buying things within the app.)
Last week, we received a shocking bill of almost $100 from the iTunes store. We never spend anywhere near that much downloading anything from iTunes, so we investigated the charge and learned that my child had run up this bill buying BRAINS while playing a game called Zombie Farm. (*Read Sidenotes – the situation got worse after I originally wrote this!)
Zombie Farm is a FREE app marketed to children. Although it doesn’t cost a penny to download, once you are playing the game, YOU CAN SPEND ACTUAL MONEY buying brains through “in-app” purchases. What’s more is that KIDS DO NOT NEED A PASSWORD to make these purchases.
There are hundreds of similar games that target children and allow in-app purchases that DO NOT REQUIRE A PASSWORD to charge your iTunes account. These games encourage players to buy content to help them play the game and/or allow them to go up to the next game level. Each little click your child makes can add up to hundreds of dollars’ worth of in-app purchases that will show up on your bill!
My child had no idea that every time he clicked to get more Zombie Farm brains, he was spending actual money. He was never asked for a password. I’m just glad we realized what was going on before our bill skyrocketed past the hundred dollar mark. That could have happened very easily!
Parents, please be aware that this could happen to you! Watch out for these “free” apps and your child’s ability to make “in-app” purchases so you don’t get any surprise bills.
*Sidenotes: We were able to dispute the first set of charges and received a one-time forgiveness. Days later, we received another invoice for in-app purchases made on a later date (but before we knew we were being charged). Hopefully that is the last one – but the charges are delayed by several days before showing up in our account. So far, our bank account is showing nearly $300 worth of charges we will have to dispute!!! My children are no longer allowed to play on the iPad.