6-Year-Old Twins Rack Up $1600 In Apps In A Single Weekend Of Unattended iPading

a kid with iPadWhile the dangers of leaving your kid unattended in front of various screens has debated consequences, a hit to your bank account has yet to be flagged as one of them — until now. Twin 6-year-olds in the UK racked up quite the iPad app tab, a whopping  £979.90 so roughly the equivalent of $1600, on virtual pets. And their pop is faulting designers, not say, his own negligence in giving his kids the password.

Ashley Griffiths, the father, says that his children knew the device’s password “after using the iPad for schoolwork and games.” But from there, his little ones seem to have gotten a little carried away over one weekend:

He and his wife received emails from Apple on Sunday evening detailing four pages of digital purchases.

He said: “Children don’t understand the value of money, they just see it as a way of collecting more pets and clothes for characters in the games.

“I mean, who in their right mind is going to pay £75 for a virtual pet?”

The father said he was shocked at how easily his children were able to rack up such a sizable bill.

“They were just prompted to enter the password, and that’s what they kept doing,” he added.

“These games are aimed at children and the designers know exactly what’s going to happen.

“There should be measures in place to prevent this, such as asking for credit card details.”

Apple has reportedly refunded Griffiths for failing to supervise his children’s spending habits as “a goodwill gesture.” Oh, and he did get around to changing that password too.

(photo:  mitikusa.net)

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  • thisshortenough

    When will people realise that this is easily solved by not giving your kids the password? It’s that simple. If you want them to be able to purchase something in a school app, then why don’t you take less than five minutes out of your day and just type it in yourself.

  • Jessica

    “There should be measures in place to prevent this, such as asking for credit card details.”

    There is a measure against this, friend- “turn off in app purchases.” It’s in your settings. I have, or else I think I would own dozens of fake fish and stock in My Little Pony.

  • guest

    Didn’t the lawsuit against Apple just get settled? At this point there is no excuse for parents to be blindsided with this.
    There are many ways to prevent it, the parents were just too lazy to utilize those ways.

  • Toaster

    And this is exactly why my kids aren’t going to know any finance-related passwords until they have their own damn income.

  • Angela

    The guy’s an idiot but I do think it would have been a bit much if Apple had refused to refund him. Also, I don’t have an iPad so I don’t know if this is already a feature but I can see where it would be really nice if you could assign kids their own passwords so that the parent can choose what apps the get access to and limit the ability to make purchases or change settings. If that’s not already an option it totally should be IMO.

    • AmazingAsh

      You can turn off in-app purchases (as previously mentioned). Kids don’t need a password to play the games, only to purchase things. Why these parents think their twins “needed” the password is beyond me. AFAIK, you only need the password to download things and to purchase things- neither of which I’d want my child doing without my permission.

  • blh

    Who the hell let’s a kid play with am iPad unsupervised?

    • R Zhao

      I do. I was also allowed to play video and computer games unsupervised as a child, though my parents might have occasionally checked on me. What’s the problem? I think grade school aged kids are usually capable of using computers and ipads alone after setting some rules and boundaries.

    • blh

      I had a Nintendo and that kind of thing but I really wouldn’t get my kid an iPad at that age. I let my son play with my phone sometimes but only when I’m there and I’m too afraid he break it or something.

    • Rachel Sea

      I think this was the parents’ iPad that the kids were allowed to use, but with digital textbooks becoming increasingly available, and school projects having digital components, and digital games helping young kids learn everything from how to tell time to geometry, kids with their own iPads is no longer just a crazy luxury. There are schools issuing them in lieu of textbooks already. 10-15 years down the road, it will probably be normal for every student to have a tablet instead of a bookbag.

    • WinWin

      So true! I let my son use my tablet because I want him to be tech savvy and able to use the iPads provided at school. Plus, it is much easier for him to play educational games on the tablet than on the computer at his age (touch keypad, easier to type, easier to pick items etc).

  • Sundaydrive00

    “There should be measures in place to prevent this, such as asking for credit card details.”

    There is. Its called your password.

  • Momma425

    It was nice of Apple to refund the money, but honestly Apple could have told these people to pound sand and they STILL would have been in the right.
    There are measures in place to prevent this:
    1) Supervising your children
    2) Not giving them the password
    3) Turning off app purchaces

    These parients are lazy and/or idiotic.

    • Zettai

      I agree. I understand that Apple is a multi-billion dollar corporation but I’m sick of people getting away with this kind of thing. This is the same as the family that traveled abroad and the 17 year old used facebook so much that they racked up a giant bill with at&t. Everyone tries to put the blame on the company but they should blame themselves for not supervising their children or finances.

    • Alex Lee

      I may be recalling a different story, but I remember a family of four (with four iPhones) on a cruise-ship. As the cruise ship sailed into international waters, so did the iPhones and their (now) roaming data charges. I’m pretty certain they weren’t actively surfing on the phones – they were just receiving and sending data in the background, syncing themselves with the iCloud. It doesn’t take many twitter refreshes to rack-up over $1,000 overseas.

      But let’s play out the scenario: Let’s say Apple exercises their contractual obligations and doesn’t refund the dad. They pocket their 947 pounds. The dad is now understandably upset at both Apple and his kids. He might even go so far as to forbid the kids from using the tablet again.

      The kids, who are just at the beginning of their educational careers, will most-likely be shopping for tablets as part of school (trust me, tablet-based curricula – it’s coming). And if the dad hasn’t already burned the hatred iPad, he’ll probably be looking at an android.

      So, I don’t see this as someone getting away with something criminal. I see it as a company acknowledging a mistake (or a couple mistakes in this case) made by a dad. Maybe it’s altruism, maybe it’s for future brand-loyalty.

    • chippythehero

      I know AT&T always turns the data roaming off on my phone automatically. I step off the tarmac at Heathrow and it’s already done, I never actually have to do it myself. And I always get a text message that says “your data roaming has been turned off” too.

  • MysteryDevil

    Don’t feel bad for them in the slightest!! You’d have to be a complete moron not to disable in-app purchases!! Apple shouldn’t have refunded them for their stupidity grrrr

  • BubbleyToes

    Now there will be a wave of people wanting refunds for their app purchases and blaming the expenses of their children. Apple has set a dangerour precedent here for themselves..

  • Alex Lee

    This sort of thing seems to happen all of the time. If it’s not the sheer amount of the charge, it’s how young these kids are that grab the headlines.

    I suppose the next story will be the 5-year old daughter who managed to write a few lines of code (they’re starting as young as 3, by the way) to brute-force a 4 digit PIN (because that’s all that’s keeping her from Candy Crush Immortality).

    Apple has started accepting biometric security – but with the recent NSA “activities”, many people are now hesitant about implementing their fingerprint data onto a device – which may or may not be accessible to a government security agency.

    The technological world is changing and these are the questions we have to think through. My daughter’s latest meltdown wasn’t over clothes, TV, or dessert after dinner….it was because she “almost died” in “Plants vs. Zombies 2″ and how difficult that particular level was.

    But buying her way past the level hasn’t occurred to her yet. She’ll most-likely lose interest and find a new game to play.

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