An Apple a day….Apple have this week been forced to pay out 32.5 million dollars to settle a legal complaint about the company’s practices that allowed children to make purchases in mobile apps without parents’ permission. Apple themselves are reacting positively to help in this matter as reported in the Daily Tech recently. Whilst not exactly agreeing in the ruling, Apple have decided not to fight it and doubtless they will revisit their in app purchase mechanisms to ensure that the issue is resolved once and for all.
Well, ……big sigh and roll of the eyes. What on earth is going on here? Where does this leave us in a world where digital devices are increasingly user friendly and accessible? Imagine, for instance, a scenario where a young child makes an actual phone call and orders up a luxury suite in the Ritz for 2 nights on his mother’s credit card. Who is responsible for allowing that transaction? The phone company for allowing this misuse of the phone? Or the credit card company for facilitating a payment via phone by a minor masquerading as their parent? What if a young person accidentally cuts their finger off whilst opening a particularly tricky packet of crisps? The knife manufacturer surely should have safeguarded against that…or wait, how about we task the crisp manufacturer with taking a more responsible approach to packaging, ensure that its impossible to cut yourself whilst using scissors.
The ruling against Apple is one which seems to forget the role of the responsible adult. In this case the adult who had purchased the smart phone or tablet which has facilitated the act of purchasing some game add ons. The adult in this case who should be providing a moral grounding to the child and explaining that in app purchases are a “no no”. or more realistically ….. perhaps these in app elements can be purchased occasionally on a one by one permission basis….and on it goes. Those are the first few aspects we might expect a parent or a responsible adult to consider when handing over a connected device like that to a child.
But crucially if a parental responsibility is too much effort there are other methods to prevent the risk. For example:
Use the settings of their device set to prevent such purchases. Thats the end of the risk. The discussion need go not further. problem solved.
Talk to their children, explain the issue./Apply rules of use.Suggest that the Lock Down will happen if the rules are broken. Hold on a moment…. I just need to find someone’s grandmother and teach them how to suck eggs.
We practise this sort of basic approach with animals. Pet shop owners do not have the “damned puppy” – they sold to little Freddie’s mother only last week- returned with complaints of “he ruined my carpet” or “he messed my lawn”…why not? Because Freddie’s Mother applies some common sense and realises that the dog is not in fact responsible for his misdemeanour’s. Maybe he will be after he has been trained…… but even then the sensible approach would not be to hold the dog to account because…. the pet owner has the task of teaching the pet to avoid chewing the carpet or digging the grass. Hey ho…..
It would be great to know the logic that leads to the ruling against Apple. Thoughts from our readers please?