How much trouble could a three year old get into with a Smurf game on the iPad?
It turns out, plenty.
We became the proud owners of two bushels and a wagonful of smurfberries. All of which became ours at the price of $127.17.
To get into iTunes or the App Store on our iPad, we must put in our password.
My husband loves to download games onto our iPad. "Mega Jump", "Angry Birds", and several others have provided endless hours of pleasure.
Emily loves to play games to. Bob downloaded the "Smurfs' Village" game for her to play. Even though she can't read she had fun figuring out what she was supposed to do and moving things around on the screen and for a three year old she did pretty good. She was mesmerized watching the smurfs move around on the screen.
...And then my husband walked away from the kitchen table while Emily played. My husband mistakenly thought that if a game asked you to buy something within the game, it would ask for a password.
Nope, that is not how it works.
And that my friends, is how we became the proud owners of so many smurfberries. With two clicks our daughter purchased a wagon of smurfberries at $99.99 and with a few more clicks two bushels at $9.99 a piece.
I had never came across that before and never even knew you could buy things with real money inside any of the games. I came across an iTunes reciept in my email Inbox on Sunday and figured my husband purchased something. I wasn't expecting a $127.17 (which included tax) worth of something. I immediately called him on the phone and asked him about the charges. He immediately fingered Emily as the culprit even though I think we were partly the culprits as well.
I emailed iTunes and explained what had happened. Their website was not reassuring saying purchases were non-refundable. Then I waited impatiently for a response.
Did I mention I am not patient?
I then went out and googled the "Smurfs' Village" app and kids. I read reviews on what a great game it was for kids (not from where this mom is sitting).
Then I found this article on "Smurfs' Village" in particular and the loophole among "kid-friendly" game apps. Apparently, the games will ask for a password only if you haven't entered your password for any reason on your iPhone or iPad in the last fifteen minutes (and some parents claim it won't even ask after the fifteen minutes are up).
Why would anyone buy a $100 wagon of smurfberries to begin with?
Luckily, iTunes removed the charges.
We have also changed our settings on the iPad to disable in-app purchases. Here's how:
1. Tap Settings.
2. Tap General.
3. Tap Restrictions.
4. Turn In-App Purchases off.
This was our wake-up call about how easily kids can get into trouble on the iPad or any device for that matter even when you think something is "safe".
And now I can laugh about it.
In fact, it does make for a funny story and my husband even joked I should print out the iTunes reciept they had sent me for her scrapbook...
...and when she wants her first smartphone or iPad I will bring up this story as a warning to her. May that not be for a very, very long time.
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