In-app purchases, which is made when a user chooses to buy subscriptions or extra content from within an application using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, is a new popular trend that’s causing quite a bit of controversy between Apple and some parents. According to a Huffington Post article from July, Canadian mom Paula Marner was surprised to discover her 7-year-old twin boys had racked up a $3,000 in-app bill while playing “Clash of Clans” on her iPad.

The article goes on to say that the games geared towards children are causing some parents thousands of dollars in unwanted purchases. Even though kids are probably eager to make in-app purchases in order to continue playing their favorite games, parents aren’t finding out until they see their bill.

In-App Purchase Details

Game developers have cleverly figured out ways to place these monetary upgrades in such a way that it is difficult for an addicted player to refuse. For instance, in the popular game “Candy Crush Saga,” users are not free to play for hours on end, unless they choose to purchase more lives for 99 cents. In other words, the game stops you from continuing your delicious journey, as a popup appears on your screen, with a timer that counts down to your next game-playing session. “Candy Crush” is currently the number one top-grossing iPhone app of all time, followed by “Clash of Clans” — both of which offer in-app purchases.

Other games that offer in-app purchases

Games such as “Despicable Me 2” and “Smurfs’ Village” are also free apps that use in-app purchases. Once children start playing, they are offered an enticing feature for a certain price, and with just one easy click, they are able to approve the purchase and continue playing.

These in-app purchases range in price from 99 cents to $99, so you can imagine this can add up quickly.

The Lawsuit

Apple, the company who developed these games, is in the process of settling a lawsuit (which could cost up to $100 million) brought on by five unhappy parents whose children charged thousands of dollars after making in-app purchases.

There are parental permission settings you can place on your phone to help prevent your children from making endless purchases, therefore, I don’t think Apple is to blame or that a lawsuit is warranted.

Although Apple uses in-app purchases as a strategy to increase sales, they should not be ultimately blamed for kids making purchases.

Parents are responsible for their children, and of course, if you provide them with a device, you shouldn’t have to watch their every move. You could, however, set boundaries and inform them upfront that they have a certain budget they need to stay within. If you don’t want your child spending any money on an app, make sure to be clear about that and set the parental permission settings.

Who do you think is to blame for these out-of-control purchases? Game developers or parents? Share your opinion with us below!


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  • highinterest

    If these in-app purchases are made by minors, I don’t see how the parents can be held responsible legally. On the other hand, I don’t see why the parents don’t put limits or a complete block on what their little monsters purchase.

    On balance, I hold the developers responsible for this potential mess. They and their companies know EXACTLY what they’re doing. Parents can easily defeat their plan, though, if they have the foresight to block it and the “courage” to stand up to their offspring. IMO the latter is the problem, that they’re afraid of their own kids and fear making them unhappy in any way ever for even a nanosecond.

  • rick

    I dont agree, my kids are so smart they have bypassed everything and they are 7 1/2 and 5 1/2 olds they know how to go around and create accounts also they know how to use my credit cards efficiently while I asleep, kids are the future of any country I am so upset at all of those companies developing all of those games because kids like mine are not stoppable on the other hand we should encourage companies to help by not handling the addiction to our kids the games same as a drug will cause them a need that they cannot easily overcome same as inducing someone to a casino game, why would they like to disrupt our kids that way? that is until certain point destroying our kids mental health, mine are induced to the in-app purchasing games thanks to those companies, are you all going to let that happen to your kids? same as a drug addict they keep looking for it, now I need to pay for a psychologist thank to help get my kids back from that, so you all tell me why is that not under a law that prohibits on some way having in-app purchases in games for little children? whats the purpose of inducing our kids to the games that way????? I have tried blocking the apps, I tried setting up every parental control, they have even looked thru my wallet and gotten my credit cards so who is responsible for turning my kids that way???? how can that be the parent problem if in first place the developers don’t do that I should not worry about it, excuse my bad english but I think all the parents victims of this abuse should stand up and do something about it, whats gonna happen next? my kids will rob a bank because of this? or your kids?