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Do In-App Purchases Target Kids?

by | Jun 26, 2018 | Consumer Protection

It seems that everyone has a smartphone these days, including kids. Even if your child is too young for a phone of their own chances are you make yours available to play games and watch videos. This practice can become expensive however if your child ends up purchasing in-game items, which is a lot easier than you would think. In fact, in 2016 a federal court ruled that one tech retailer was culpable for the purchases made by kids using their parents’ credit card information.

According to The Washington Post, the heart of the issue was the way games were labeled within the Amazon app store. Many were touted as free, which could be misleading to parents letting their kids play these games unattended. While the games were in fact free, they also featured in-app purchases for special items, and these items could be bought with the click of a button when a parent’s credit card or bank information was linked to the account. Additionally, consumers are not fully aware of the possibility of purchases being made when linking an Amazon account the a smartphone or other device.

The Federal Trade Commission claimed that this was an unfair practice since most consumers were unaware just what they were signing up for. A federal court agreed and ordered Amazon to return a portion of the money to consumers. Both Apple and Google were subject to the same inquiries regarding purchases made in their app stores but opted to settle with consumers out of court. While many companies have taken steps to increase parental controls in recent years, in-app purchases can still woo kids, who fail to understand just what they’re doing when playing their favorite games.

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