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What is every parent’s worst nightmare? It’s leaving that laptop or iPad unattended and unsupervised with their young child. With just a few clicks, a virtual shopping spree could cost you thousands of dollars. This was the case of Sharon and Greg Kitchen of Bristol England. Their son, who is five-years-old, purchased $2,550 dollars in iPad apps in a staggering ten minutes.

When Greg’s son Danny asked him for his iTunes password, he had no idea what his son had in store. Greg provided his password to his son, and Danny went on to spend over two grand on apps. It seems that Danny was enticed into purchasing a bundle of apps that are sold in-app. An in-app purchase occurs when an advertisement appears while a current app is running. Often times, these advertisements are catered towards the users of the current app. Therefore, if Danny was playing a game, he may have been targeted and marketed to with an advertisement. With his father’s iTunes password, he was able to purchase as many apps as his little heart desired. Danny claims that these purchases were made by accident, but it seems that the targeted advertising could partly be to blame. In the end, the story had a happy ending. Apple decided to refund Greg and Sharon for these purchases.

This story, however, is an illustration of a larger issue. This is not the first time that accidental purchases have occurred. There should be something done by Apple with these in app advertisements. Apple used to have the highest of standards for their app developers, forcing them to follow all of their own development rules. However, as the years have passed, these rules have become more relaxed. While this can have positive effects because it allows more apps in the iOS marketplace, it also has negative effects. When low quality apps are offered with endless advertisements that are built to trick the user to click on them, the problem has now become an ethical one. Should Apple allow these apps to intentionally “trick” the user into possibly purchasing additional apps.

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