While looking at the App store Top Grossing list, I was quite surprised to see Dragon Vale was at the top as #1. I was surprised because Dragon Vale is a free app. In fact the top 5 grossing apps are all free apps. How can they make money? Obviously, these free apps get money through In-App Purchase. This sends a strong message to all app buyers, especially all the parents: free apps are NOT free, be aware of the In-App Purchases.
I had a post about In-App Purchase a while ago. Now I updated the content and re-post it here.
In-app purchase is also called freemium. Quite few free apps are free to download, but they offer incentives within the app to buy things that cost REAL money. Things you can buy: furniture for the house, outfit for your favorite character, skip a level to move up, … Use Dragon Vale as an example. The app’s top in-app purchases are: Pile of Gems – $1.99; Sack of Gems – $4.99; Bag of Gems – $9.99; Pile of Food – $o.99; Pile of Cash – $0.99. Some other popular kids apps that have In-App Purchase: Smurfs’ Village, Tap Zoo, Tap Pet Hotel, Tiny Zoo Friends. These are not bad apps. However, as parents, we have to learn how to manage the In-App Purchase to stay within our budget. I don’t know how many times I have heard the stories of surprising bills from the app store.
There are several approaches to manage the in-app purchase, depending on your child’s maturity level:
1. For kids have no money management concept/skills, you want to disable the In-App Purchase completely.
On you iPhone or iPAD, go to “Settings”, then tap on “General”, then “Restrictions”. You want to turn “Restrictions” on. The password is the same as the one you use to log in to your device. If you don’t want your child change the settings, it is a good idea to hide your password away from your child. Once you are in “Restrictions”, scroll down to find “Allowed Content” (shown below). You want to turn “In-App Purchase” off. You also want to change “Require Password” to “Immediately”. The default is “15 minutes”, which means, after you enter a password for a purchase, the kids get a 15-minute time window to download/purchase things without a password. It happened in our family, it could also happen to you.
After all these, all you have to remember is to never put in a password in front of your kids. Kids have keen memories, much better than we know them.
2. For kids who can take some responsibilities in managing money, but still need supervision, you can set a budget limit for them to use.
You can give them the password, so they feel trusted. You want to talk about the difference between Game money and Real money. Instead of linking a credit card to your App Store account, use a gift card. Make sure your child knows his budget limit.
Like I said earlier, apps with In-App Purchase are not necessarily bad apps. All we have to do is to find ways to manage the budget.
How do you manage In-App Purchase? What worked? What did not work? Please leave a comment.