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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Fresh iPhone apps for Nov. 15: UberTwitter, Target for iPad, Demotivational Creator

Heading up today’s Fresh Apps is a cool new Twitter client that makes checking out links from your Twitter feed a little easier, reports appolicious. Read about that, and a couple of other cool apps, in the list below.

UbberTwitter (iPhone) Free: Here’s a free Twitter client that supports all the usual features of Twitter, like direct messages, lists and searches, neatly arranged in tabs at the bottom of the app. It’s a nice, clean interface that makes it easy to navigate. The app also includes a very cool feature called “UberView,” which allows you to check out links in a separate pane right in the app. It’s a nice alternative to other Twitter clients — which send you to the browser every time you tap a link — and lets you avoid having to load another app to see what your friends and followers find interesting…

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Can iPhone apps make kids smarter?

A new study finds that educational iPhone apps can increase a child’s vocabulary acquisition by as much as 31 percent within two weeks, CNET reports. The study is part of a larger look at the relationship between technology and education, administered by PBS and funded by a grant from the Department of Education. To glimpse the potential of mobile apps as a new educational medium, the study first tested the vocabulary level of a group 90 Title I school children, ages 3 to 7. Then, the children each were given two weeks with an iPod Touch loaded with the Martha Speaks app created by PBS Kids. The study monitored how the children used the iPod, how long they used it for, during what hours, and in what context. A call-in voice mailbox was established so that parents could relate any anecdotes or observations about their child’s time with the device. On average, the study found that kids played with the iPod Touch for a total of 5 hours across the two weeks, with half that time spent playing the Martha Speaks app. It’s important to note that the study didn’t require kids to play with the device or the app—all play was self-initiated. At the end of the two-week trial, the children were given another vocabulary test, which revealed an increase in vocabulary acquisition by as much as 31 percent…

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