Don't Let Game Apps Cost You Big Time!by Andrea Benton
Between my two pre-schoolers, running a home, working on my business and being a wife, I don’t have a lot of time for entertainment. However, because I have a tablet I do seem to find time to squeeze in the Smurfs app.
Now for those of you who don’t know, it’s based on the Smurfs cartoons. For example, Papa Smurf sends Smurfs on quests; you plant crops and harvest them, etc. while going up levels. It’s fun.
My sister-in-law introduced it to us and now my hubby plays, I play and my other sister-in-law plays. It has actually brought us closer together. Within the game I can see their villages with permission, of course. We talk about leveling, quests and the placement of stuff within each village. We have something fun in common. We’re not talking about the kids or politics. It’s refreshing.
As much fun as the app is, there is a downside to it and it’s called Smurfberries. Smurfberries allow you to do more within the game such as plant different crops. The catch is that they cost real money. To be fair, you don’t have to purchase them but the game goes a lot slower and isn’t as much fun.
In early 2011, a child racked up $1400 on in-app purchases of Smurfberries. (In-app purchases are purchases made within an app for real money.) The child’s mother didn’t realize it until she got the bill. And while the mom got a refund from Apple, it illustrates the importance of why parents more than ever need to educate themselves on apps. Simply put - you can’t assume anything with apps.
So before you download another game app for your child, consider the following:
1. With popular games read at least 25 app reviews and read online forums about the app.
2. Ask other parents if they have downloaded the app and what they experienced.
3. Turn off in app-purchases. Here’s an iOS and Android link on how to do that:
4. Visit the company that developed the app and read their FAQ section.
5. Check in with your child on how they are doing with the app. If they suddenly have unlocked several levels or have 100 Smurfberries, something might be amiss. It is better to know sooner rather than later.
Game apps are fun but just like everything else in life, they come with risks. Well, I’ve got to run. My crops are about to wither.
Tweet me @weebootMom on your experiences with in app purchases or game apps.
Andrea Benton is a passionate techie Mom, who has two young children, both of which love tablet technology. She blogs about tablet technology for parents and childcare providers. Follow Andrea on Twitter @weebootMom or sign up for her eNewsletter called the weeport at www.weeboot.ca.