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TMCNet:  Do your children play app games on smart phones and tablets? Here's what you should know [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]

[July 11, 2014]

Do your children play app games on smart phones and tablets? Here's what you should know [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]

(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 11--The Federal Trade Commission has sued Amazon.com Inc., seeking refunds for customers who were unknowingly billed for charges racked up by children playing games on its devices.

The federal agency thumped Apple for the same issue in January, when the tech giant agreed to refund at least $32.5 million to customers.

Not long after that settlement, Apple apparently tattled on Google, pointing to a Consumer Reports story on how parents had complained that Android products contained a loophole that allowed kids to rack up multiple charges after parents approve of just one. Politico leaked that story after obtaining FTC emails through a public records request.


Yet after reading about the Amazon's lawsuit yesterday, several readers argued that although tech companies shouldn't misrepresent how games charge players, parents should really take more responsibility for how their children play games.

Generaston wrote: "You mean parents aren't being responsible for what their kids are doing online??? SHOCK! GASP! WHAT??? Thank goodness the Fed Guvment is here to do the parents job. We're SAVED!!!" While Jacksonstew added: "A functioning society needs responsibility on all sides. That means businesses have a responsibility too. When they pull scams to entice kids to spend without parental approval, they deserve to lose those profits.

I am all for personal responsibility, but only when coupled with corporate responsibility." What do you think? Take our poll and share your opinion.

To avoid the issue altogether, hose customers receiving large, unexpected bills racked up in app games, keep these tips from the FTC in mind.

--Avoid it all together: Search online for your device by name and the phrase "how to disable in-app purchases." Tech companies offer directions on how to do that as do several user forums --Change settings: Most devices also allow users to set a pin number that will be immediately requested when any purchase is about to be made. If you set a pin number, don't share it.

--Keep passwords private: Don't let your children know passwords for app stores either.

-- Laura Gunderson ___ (c)2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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