With modern technology, mobile applications, whether on iOS or Android devices, are easier than ever to buy and download. So simple in fact, that a child can do it.
Designed to Appeal - Children love to download mobile applications that feature their favorite characters, cartoons and TV shows. Advertisements are aimed specifically for children in ways that will invite them to click a link and instantly download a game. These games are typically free, meaning they don't require authentication before downloading. A new game can be downloaded, installed, and ready to run seconds. Developers commonly use what is known in the business as a 'freemium' model. This means that the game is free to download and start, but inserts paid 'upgrades' designed to make the player part with cash.
Freemium Games - Upgrades to games may unlock more levels, purchase in-game currency, or outfit a character with special qualities. Competitive online games commonly have a strategy that gives paying players an unfair advantage over ones who don't pay. This is often referred to as 'pay-to-win' and entices players to spend more to get on the same level. Many mobile-based games are designed purely to encourage in-app purchasing. Some deliberately design a deceptive or tricky user-interface that makes it easy to miss-click or make purchases by accident. There are regular stories in the news featuring kids spending thousands on in-app purchases for virtual characters. In some cases, children can use real-world money to buy items thinking they are spending in-game currency.
Apps to Help - Of course, it's unfair to give all applications a bad name. Many deserve it, but not all apps are guilty of behaving poorly. There are fitness apps, productivity apps, and educational apps that can act as useful tools to help enhance your day. Children can get a lot from high-quality applications in the same way educational software for the computer can be a huge classroom boost. Getting the most out of your phone or tablet is about keeping your device safe against applications designed merely to take your money.
Secure Your Device - The best step you can take to prevent running up enormous app bills is to disable in-app purchases on your devices. This prevents apps from being able to take funds for digital items. The process to do this is simple, takes less than 2 minutes, and can save you huge amounts.
- On iOS: Enter the settings screen, tap on 'General'. Then tap on 'Restrictions' and tap the 'Enable restrictions' option. Make sure to turn "In-App Purchases" off.
- On Android: Inside the Google Play App: press the phone menu button and go to Settings. Scroll down to "User Controls", tap on the "Set or Change Pin" option and set a pin that only you will know.
Safe Apps - With these options enabled, whether using an iOS or Android device, your phone or tablet is safe from app purchases in any hands.
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