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D'oh-nuts: 8-year-old spends $1460 on virtual snacks in Simpsons iPad game

If you feel a sense of déjà-vu while reading this article, you're probably not alone - this is just the latest in a long line of incidents featuring unsupervised children spending enormous sums of real money on virtual assets in freemium apps. 

Today's episode takes us to England's green and pleasant land, and the city of Bristol, where eight-year-old Theo Rowland-Fry lives. Theo is apparently a fan of The Simpsons, and his parents Nick and Lisa allowed him to use the family's Apple iPad to play a game based on the show. The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a freemium app - free to download, with in-app purchases readily available - from EA Mobile, and is among the most popular games available on the App Store and in Google's Play Store. 

Theo evidently loved the game, playing it regularly for weeks on end. But by the beginning of this month, Nick and Lisa discovered that their bank account had been drained and as The Telegraph reports, it didn't take long to find out who the culprit was. 

Over the course of six weeks, Theo had spent £980 GBP (around $1460 USD / €1130 EUR) on buying virtual doughnuts in the game. His father said that "there were more than 100 purchases on iTunes for between £1.50 and £75.00", adding that the family had "received no emails alerting us to what was happening". 

Of course, Nick and Lisa couldn't blame the boy for his enthusiastic gameplay; as Nick conceded, "Theo is only just eight and has no real concept of the monetary value attached". Apple evidently sympathised with this, and refunded the amount in full; while the company already offers parental controls, and naturally expects some degree of parental responsibility in how children use devices, it says that it reviews the circumstances of each incident on a case-by-case basis. 

Even so, one has to wonder how many more of these stories will continue to emerge before parents everywhere understand the importance of imposing the proper restrictions and controls on how their children can use connected devices, rather than pleading ignorance after the event, and expecting companies to return their money. 

Source: The Telegraph | Image via HQwallpapers4free

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