I know I’m behind the times with this, but this is just idiotic. Head to the Washington Post for the full story, but these quotes should give you the gist of things:
Over the winter break from school, 8-year-old Madison worked to dress up her simple mushroom home on the iPhone game Smurfs’ Village. In doing so, she also amassed a $1,400 bill from Apple.
“I thought the app preyed on children”, she [the mother of the child] said. “Note that the Smurf app states it is for ages 4-plus”
Apple said it tries to prevent episodes like Madison’s by requesting a password when making in-app purchases. And parents can change settings on Apple’s gadgets to restrict downloading and transactions, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.
But parents say changing those settings isn’t easy or obvious.
Yes, the settings are easy and obvious. It takes four taps to reach the parental restrictions on an iOS device. It’s a bit more complicated on a console, but it’s still fairly easy. The parental restrictions are in no way hard or complicated, assuming you actually try to find them. I didn’t find those links above by my encyclopaedic knowledge of my console operating systems, I found them by Google searching for them.
Children, for many reasons, don’t always completely understand what they do. Even giving an older sister your iTunes password (which is what happened above) is asking for this sort of stuff, because your iTunes password can be used to buy things from your credit card without your consent. When I put it that way, it looks like such a horrible idea. So why do kids know their parents’ passwords? Because these parents are lazy. It’s much easier to say “Just type in ‘password’, I’m trying to watch American Idol!” and assume your kid won’t buy anything stupid because he’s such a good boy. My message to anybody affected by this is the following: blaming Apple, or Capcom (the developer of the Smurf game), or Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo or anyone but yourself is just passing the blame because you’re too lazy to get hands-on with parenting. You wouldn’t give your kid your credit card at the mall because he might run amok, why would you give it to him when he’s in a digital store full of things to run amok with?
Are the “Smurfberries” a scam? Not at all. A scam is defined as fraudulent or deceptive, and there is nothing fraudulent or deceptive here. It’s certainly not the best thing you can buy with your money, but Capcom is completely up-front about the cost, and your credit card is protected behind your iTunes password, PSN profile password, or Xbox profile password. To say that the app “preys on children” is more deceptive than this app; at least the poor app isn’t using fear-inducing buzzphrases to make a news article. Supermarkets “prey on children” by putting candy bars at the checkout aisle too, and kids sneaking candy bars into shopping carts is something parents have dealt with for ages. And they deal with it by not giving their kid their credit card. Because while the app might be for kids who are 4+, your credit card isn’t.
Am I too harsh? Or do you readers agree with me?