Parents protest in-app purchases for kids’ iPhone and iPad games

A story in yesterday’s Washington Post follows a pretty common narrative of parents, kids turned loose with technology, and sticker shock when a bill for that comes in. News of outrageous phone bills from texting charges have been commonplace. But the latest furor is over in-app purchases, virtual goods that kids are buying from within iPhone, iPod, and iPad games, reports ReadWriteWeb. The opening anecdote: 8-year-old Madison who spent $1,400 to decorate her mushroom home in the iPhone game Smurf’s Village. She didn’t realize the Smurfberries she was buying were real purchases. “After all,” writes reporter Cecilia Kang, “lots of children’s games require virtual payments of pretend coins, treasure chests and gold to advance to levels.”

Madison’s mother says she thinks “the app preyed on children,” pointing out that the Smurf game says it’s for those age 4 and up. Madison’s story isn’t the first, and her family’s problems aren’t unique. Indeed, these sorts of purchases have made kids’ games like Smurfs’ Village incredibly popular – and profitable. But parents (anyone, really, Smurf fans or not) balk at the $99 charge for a wagon of Smurfberries…

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