Apple agrees to refund parent after kid splurges £4k on in-app purchases

A 32-year old Carpet centre owner was left furious after he realised that his seven-year old son had unwittingly spent £3,911 on in-app purchases while playing Jurassic World on his iPad.

The kid knew the password on his father's iPad and used the device to play Jurassic World, a stimulating game that offers extra dinosaurs and upgrades via in-app purchases. Unaware about the fact that the purchases involved real money, he continued playing for five days from December 13 till 18, racking up £3,911 in the process. It could have been a lot more, save for the fact that there wasn't any money left in his father's bank card.

Apple's iPhones sport much better parental controls than Android phones

Mohamed Shugaa, the 32-year old father, realised that something was amiss when his bank card was declined while he was paying one of his suppliers.

"When I couldn't make another payment I rang my bank. They put me through to the fraud team and they asked if I was aware 60-plus transactions had been made to iTunes from December 13 to 18 totalling £3,911. I didn't have a clue what they were talking about and I had to check my bank account online to understand what was going on," he told Crawley News.

"I was so mad. I'm 32 years old, why would Apple think I would be spending thousands of pounds on buying dinosaurs and upgrading a game? Why didn't they email me to check I knew these payments were being made? I got nothing from them. How much longer would it have gone on for? Faisall is only seven, he doesn't understand the real value of money and what the payments in the game involved. Apple have details of my account so it would have been clear that I don't spend that type of money on iTunes. It should have been flagged up," he added.

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As per reports, Apple has agreed to refund the entire cost incurred through the in-app purchases to Mohamed Shugaa, but we are yet to receive an official confirmation from Apple.

A recent article in The New York Times found that parental control settings in iPhones and iPads are much better and varied compared to those in Android phones. The Family Sharing feature in Apple devices as well as parental control settings in iTunes lets you view and control what your child sees and plays. Once you set the controls in motion, your child won't be able to access apps with mature content, make in-app purchases or use mountains of cellular data on videos and games without your permission, said the report.

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Given that children are getting increasingly exposed to mature content available online and even indulge in sexting, if you gift them iPhones, you will be able to disable cellular data usage in video apps like YouTube and also set controls on in-app purchases where every time your child tries to make a purchase, you will receive a notification in your iPhone which will detail out the nature of content and the cost and will let you allow or deny that purchase.

"While it may be tempting to save money by buying cheaper Android devices for children, parents who want tight control over their children’s activities on smartphones will be better off buying iPhones for the family. Apple’s parental controls were detailed and took a while to set up, but they accomplished all of the restrictions that I wanted. The Android system was sorely lacking in features for regulating minors and only offered incomplete solutions for a small number of restrictions," said Brian X. Chen, the author of the report.

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“We want every customer, young and old, to have a positive and safe experience online with our products. That’s why we’ve built parental controls into iOS devices, Apple TV and Macs, so parents have easy-to-use tools that protect their children online,” said Apple in a statement.

While parental controls are present in all iOS devices, such lapses can only be due to oversight on part of the parent or his failure in keeping his password a secret from his children. The experience of Mohamed Shugaa now makes it even more important for parents to learn how to set parental controls before letting their children play with their devices.

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