Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Children and In-App Purchases

First week with all the kids in school and I'm desperately trying to prioritize all the things that piled up over the last three weeks. New stuff keeps popping up, however. Annoying but typical how that happens. 

Anyway, as many of you know, Calvin, my 9 year old, came up with a blog idea over Christmas break. He's writing about how gadgets can take over a kid's life. I'm really pleased with our endeavor. Yasha and I let him do it mainly because his teacher wanted him to work on his writing structure. He tells stories well, but needs to work on exposition. A blog seemed a perfect fit, and it is working with he and I discussing distilling main topics and paragraph structure. Its an ongoing process, but he's engaged and eager, which is what I wanted. I had hoped that he would get an extra benefit, perspective, and that has come through in spades. Now that he thinks about when games take over your life, he self polices. It's all I can do not to dance a little jig when he turns down some computer fun for some outdoor fun. Better still, he's modeling for his sisters. They more willingly follow his lead than listen to me lecture them about video games melting their brains.

He writes in spurts, like his momma, and last night dictated three posts to me. The first we published was about in-app games purchases. It seems it is more than just an annoyance:

New research from premium rate regulator PhonepayPlus revealed huge bills could also be racked up either by ‘malware’ in fake applications or by people failing to keep track of what they’re spending in legitimate programmes.
Complaints rose by 300 per cent in the last year as consumers discovered large phone bills caused by both the malware and unexpectedly costly purchases, often from children.
In one case, a counterfeit Android game billed £15 to the user each time it was opened.
Two-thirds of 11- to 16-year-olds download their own apps, and PhonepayPlus warned that parents could see bills of "hundreds or even thousands of pounds" as a result of these in-app purchases.
PhoepayPlus said that “naivety” from young people was often to blame and that it was causing concern among parents. 
 The helpful link The Telegraph mentions at the end,, either it doesn't work in the US or The Telegraph link crashed it. Anyone know a good phone safety primer for kids?

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