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It's a well known fact that Apple's AppStore features a selection of free gaming apps geared towards children.
But, as it turns out, the apps aren't exactly free. Children have been racking up bills totaling hundreds of dollars from in-app purchases made without parental consent.
A recipient of one of those bills has now filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging that Apple is preying on children who don't understand that nothing in life is free.
Most of these free apps sell virtual cash that gives players an advantage in the tasks they must complete. The only way to obtain the virtual cash is via in-app purchases with real money.
The lawsuit claims that the free games are addictive by design, which in turn compels children to make these purchases, reports PCWorld.
Until the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation in February, it was significantly easier for children to make in-app purchases without parental consent. Passwords were stored for 15 minutes following an initial purchase to increase ease of use.
Children were using that window to make their own unauthorized purchases.
In response, Apple began requiring users to input their password with every transaction, and some game developers began including in-app disclaimers.
The plaintiff is still suing.
The lesson here is that if you have a child with an iPod, iPad or iPhone, you need to have a frank discussion about in-app purchases and their actual monetary value. You should also consider altering parental controls to prevent any shopping.
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