What is an “in app” purchase, and how do I prevent my children from making them?

There are two ways to buy when it comes to apps (except for shopping apps such as Amazon). The first is directly from the App Store and the second is through an “in-app” purchase. The App Store is straightforward; there is a price, and users approve or not. The “in app” purchase option (which can be turned on and off in the Settings program) works a little differently. If an app hassomethingavailable forpurchaseand users can click on it, the user must approve it and provide the Apple ID password to install it.

Many parents will turn this feature to the off position so that children will not be confronted by this “in app” purchase option. “In app” purchases aretypicallyupgrades to theapplication. Inother words, instead of launching a second version or a free “lite” version, a developer will launch one version (effectively a lite version) and use the “in app”purchaseto entice users to upgrade to the full version. Many parents use “in app” purchasesall of the time. There are advantages of “in app” purchases, such as trialing the app first and not having to install one lite version and then the full version.

The heart of the issue is that some users may think they are getting something free and in the end it turns out it is not free. If parents or caregivers share their password with their children and they use it to download apps or make “in app” purchases, do not be surprised. We suggest that parents do not put their children in that situation, but rather be involved in how your child is using the device and teach them how to be savvy consumers.

We are not saying therearen’tsneakyapps and app developers out there–there are, but like any content, the parent orcaregiveris the oneresponsibleto letting it get into the hands of the user. The issues facing the iPad are not different from the ones facing the computer–the only difference is that kids may start with these touch tablet devices earlier, making parental control more important.

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