$1,400 for Smurfberries!?! Why You Should Think Twice Before Handing an iPhone Over to an 8-Year-Old

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Parents want their children to become comfortable with technology. But in the course of amusing themselves with apps and games, kids can unknowingly (or perhaps knowingly) pile up huge bills on their parent’s credit cards.

The Washington Post reports one such extreme case, in which a second-grader named Madison amassed a $1,400 bill on iTunes while playing an iPhone game called Smurfs’ Village. Madison’s mom wasn’t happy:

“I thought the app preyed on children,” she said. “Note that the Smurf app states it is for ages 4-plus.”

The Washington Post explains how games like Smurfs’ Village work:

The games are part of a category of applications on Apple’s iTunes store that are free to download but let companies charge users for products and services when the application is launched.

And what do the companies charge? In the Smurfs’ game, $99 for a virtual wagon of Smurfberries and $19 for a bucket of snowflakes, per the WaPost. Wow. Nowadays, you could buy a genuine bucket of snowflakes for a lot less than that.

The games require passwords in order for gamers to buy this stuff, and parents can change the settings on phones, tablets, and computers so that children cannot make purchases, but many parents will probably just take a different course of action: Sorry kid, no more games for you.