I’m getting complaints about a new kind of app purchase on Apple devices: kids hitting “buy.”
GigaOM and other press have already covered this with regards to purchases (parents are seeing big bills from kids who bought stuff in app, or even from app store since that remains active 15 minutes after a parent puts a password in), but Apple really needs to do more. Why? My kids, who are one and three years old are already very adept at getting around.
Already my sons have:
1. Deleted all my apps.
2. Deleted all my photos.
3. Downloaded new apps (turns out if they get the phone right after I’ve installed new updates, or new apps, they don’t need to put my password in).
4. Sent a tweet.
5. Called a friend.
6. Sent a video (it actually was pretty good, of me sleeping).
In some of these instances it took less than a minute. Kids are VERY fast at playing with these devices and it only takes you turning your head for a minute or two for lots of bad things to happen to your mobile devices (I’ve since locked my iPhone with a code so my kid can’t pick up my iPhone and start playing around).
And don’t give me the hooey about watching my kids closer. These are their favorite toys and contain their favorite games and entertainment. We even turn on Thomas the Tank Engine on Netflix for them to watch.
Yeah, there are some parental locks already, but it’s clear that we need both education of parents (I’ve gotten religious about backups) but also we need the parental control features to be easier to find.
I just tried to turn them on for the first time. When I go to the Settings on my iPhone I don’t see “parental controls.” Someone who doesn’t know might not even know they are there, under “Settings/General/Restrictions.” You can turn off the ability to Delete Apps and In-App Purchases, for instance, but the wording is confusing.
First of all, if you want to keep your kids from doing In-App Purchases, you have to turn “off” restrictions and it isn’t clear exactly what this does (there isn’t help for each item to explain what the consequences are).
Many parents will discover this feature on their iPhones and iPads too late. Probably only after something really bad has happened. You also can’t keep kids from deleting all your photos and videos, for instance. Since that’s already happened to me I bet it’s happened to other parents as well.
Anyway, if you have young kids and iPhones or iPads, be warned. Your kids probably will figure out how to delete apps or make in-game purchases before you do!