back to article Girl, 3, buys iPad apps, using mum's credit card

A Sydney toddler bought AU$50 worth of apps using the family iPad, while her parents' backs were turned. Sienna Leigh, 3, was able to buy some games from the Apple Apps Store, because, her mother, Lisa, 29 says: "It turns out that after you buy one app, which I had bought for her, it doesn't ask for the password straight away …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Here, fixed it for you...

    "Lisa Leigh, 29, says she might consider asking for a refund, but as she was hoodwinked out of over six hundred Aussie dollars for the thing in the first place, she's already accustomed to throwing money away".

    Now, where's my flame-proof suit...

  2. s. pam

    Can't you guys watch Tele?

    Dear Reg-O

    Look at the Watchdog site from last week's show -- loads of UK iPad consumers have had this happen to their kids

    Apple ain't commenting from what Mrs. Weakest Link was saying...

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      For my sins...

      I caught part of that report.

      Apparently these bills are all Apple's fault and no responsibility should attach itself to parents downloading apps offering in-game purchases, failing to switch on parental supervision mode and then allowing their precious little snowflakes to play with their x-hundred Pound phones.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Only once

      True - but the iOS devices only ask you for the password once in a short period of time though (try it, buy something, then something else straight away - by default if won't ask you a second time).

      The story goes (according to the source), mum bought game, gave vgame to child, child got bored and went into App Store before the password timed out.

      The solution?: "I've completely turned off the Wi-Fi on her iPad so she has no chance of accessing the app store at all now"

      Note, she says "*her* iPad". What sort of tool buys an iPad for their 3yr old and leaves the WiFi on??

      1. Expat Paul

        Fixed it for you

        "What sort of tool buys an iPad for their 3yr old and leaves the WiFi on??"

        Should be

        "What sort of tool buys an iPad for their 3yr old??"

    2. JediHomer
      Thumb Down

      Password cached

      According to the Watchdog link posted above ( the video says once you enter your password, it's cached for about 15 minutes... So you can authorize the download of a free app (as this requires putting the password in) give it to your child who then can buy in-app items as the password is not prompted for.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can happen very easily

      I agree that's how it works when you buy applications singly over time. But once you've input your password you have a grace period (I've never timed it but around 10-15 minutes?) where other purchases go through on the nod.

      I can see both sides though, on the one hand it's a risk but on the other it's convenient if you're shopping for more than one app/video/track etc.

      Perhaps the wider question is why the girl's mother used an iPad as a substitute pacifier. :-/

    4. David Barrett

      Try this.

      Download an app (paid or free doesnt matter)

      Enter your password - app installs.

      Now within 15 minutes go back and download another app (again paid or free)

      App installs.

      The issue is that iOS caches your password for around (possibly exactly) 15 minutes.

      The reason I heard for this is that its to save you time when you are setting up your phone for the first time installing loads of apps...

      Just do what I do, when your card expires dont update your details with itunes if I want to buy something I have to go and buy an iTunes voucher... yeah its a pain in the arse and it takes longer but at least I know that the most my kids can spend when they are playing with the phone is the £10 of pre-paid credit that i put on it... no nast surprises when mr visa sends a bill!

  4. JaitcH

    Should be easy enough

    If they want to offer up a credit card number they should omit the last two digits of the card which would have to be completed by the iPhan, thereby reducing the chance of accidental purchases.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again!

    These aren't infant toys! Jesus, my wife won't even let ME even gaze upon the Jobsian device of miracles, let alone let our kids play with it! ( Yeah alright, I have been known to fix delicate electronic gadgets the Homer Simpson way! )

    Instead of trying to use a device to occupy your infants, how about you spend a little time with them? I dunno teaching them life's more useful skills like the basic art of simple conversation or God forbid, just allowing your kids to just switch off and daydream while playing some toys!

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      What's wrong... giving kids an early grounding in technology? We spend plenty of time with our almost 3 year old son reading books and chatting to him, playing toy trains/cars, doing jigsaws, riding his trike/scooter around etc etc - all the "traditional" type activities you'd expect parents to do with their little 'uns. Yet he also gets to spend some time playing on the PC (he loves the painting and memory games on the Thomas & Friends website) and we've recently bought him a second hand iPod Touch to stop him nicking the iPhone off my wife whenever he wants to play or watch videos on that.

      The way we see it, sooner or later he'll need to learn at least the basics, and as a self-confessed techie it makes me quite proud to see him navigating around the PC desktop, knowing which shortcut icon he needs to click on to load the Thomas site, and knowing how to use the mouse or touchpad to achieve this. He even figured out how to move apps in and out of folders on the iPod - unfortunately he learned how to do this before he got the iPod, which meant every time my wife got her iPhone back off him she had to spend a few minutes re-arranging everything...

      1. David Barrett

        Ohhh yeah...

        "... which meant every time my wife got her iPhone back off him she had to spend a few minutes re-arranging everything..."

        Been there... Spend 5 minutes srolling through seemingly endless empty screens bacause he decided that there shoudl be a 20+ page buffer between the first page of icons and the last... Guess which one the phone, messages and safari apps were on? :)

  6. Andy Barker

    Blurring of the divide between our reality and children's reality

    With the proliferation of online "worlds", a lot of children (and a lot of adults) don't understand the difference between playing a game on a computer, and "playing" on eBay, etc.

    1. Tigra 07
      Thumb Up

      It's a real game

      It's an interesting game where you spend money on Ebay and eventually level up to a new house when your parents find out how much in debt they are

      I played once but ended up in prison for 3 years so stopped after that

  7. Valerion

    Me too

    My son did this - bought a game for £4.99 on my phone after I'd downloaded something else for him.

    To add insult to injury he decided to do the same on my wife's phone a couple of days later. He's only 4 so I'll be docking it out of his pocket money when he's older.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A demonstration of negligence

    Could have been worse, it could have been a knife, or (pick a hazzard), that these children were left to play with.

  9. LinkOfHyrule
    Paris Hilton


    These stories of kids buying stuff online like this are nearly always from Aus or New Zeeland. Wasn't there a case a few years ago of some crap news channel making up these sort of fake stories to plug an auction site they also owned? I seem to recall stories of young kids buying tractors on their parents accounts etc.

    Don't tell me the app the kid brought was in some way related to the news organisation that first broke this story!

    Paris cos I might be barking up the wrong tree, and urm, yeah barking seems like something she would know about!

  10. Martijn Bakker
    Gates Halo


    I'm no Apple fanboy, but I'm sure this could be used to argue that anyone can use an iPad.

    However, a friend who recently bought a MacBook, held a different opinion:

    "I'm a bit disappointed. I'd heard it was real user friendly, so I was hoping it would me more like HP-UX" (wanted to share that.. I thought he was pretty funny)

    All a matter of perspective.. and some perspectives are just.. odd.

  11. Vitani

    Not that bad

    I'm sure I saw on TV the other day that a boy bought over £200-worth of in-game currency for a game his dad got for him to play with. The boy had no idea it was costing real money, and his dad was alerted by his card company about irregular activity on his account. Fortunately he got a full refund.

    The question is though, why are parents allowing their kids to play with these expensive devices? I certainly don't let my kids touch, let alone play with my phone...

  12. Anonymous John

    That's nothing.

    A three year old bought a car for £9000 four years ago.

  13. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    To be fair

    This sort of thing is not exclusive to Apple. The PS3, for instance, allows settings whereby you can buy stuff from the Playstation Store (or whatever it's called) without having to enter a password, using stored card details.

    Here's the thing though: You can also set it so that it DOES prompt for a password, and I can't imagine the iPad would be any different. If you're going to enter your credit card details into any computer, be it a games console, a tablet PC, a desktop or whatever, and leave it so that further purchases can be made without some sort of password being entered, and then you give that device to a child to play with (or indeed anyone else you wouldn't trust with your credit card), then the answer is plain and simple: You're an idiot and you are about to experience a possibly expensive lesson.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


      ...Having read some of the comments above, it sounds like the iPad is caching the password for 15 minutes so that it doesn't need to be re-entered. This, IMHO, is a really stupid piece of security design from Apple. But then, Apple are specialists in producing expensive shiny toys, not in security principles (or antenna design for that matter).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignorance is bliss.

    And apparently quite expensive.

    App store passwords remain re-usable (no prompting to re-enter) for 15 minutes. Saves punching it in time after time if you're buying a few apps in one sitting.

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    My kid did that

    I was sitting at work one day when a bunch of emails turned up from PSN thanking me for my purchases. WTF? A phone call later reveals my 4 year old son had decided to buy a bunch of games while he was playing on the PS3. He cost me €30 that day but I learnt my lesson and password protected the thing.

  16. Plagued

    been there done that

    My son's not even 3 and he's been buying apps from the Android marketplace behind my back. There are lots of Educational games for kids on Android and apple devices and the interfaces are so easy to use that even ... well a 2 year old can do it. Android doesn't even ask you to put a password in to buy anything it just goes right through, it does however have a button for refund within 24 hours.

  17. Cavan
    Paris Hilton

    Angry bird? she was fuming....

    4 yo bought Angry birds on wife's iphone, he had asked for a free app prior to purchase, (after password is requested there is then a period where you can pick up any app without entering a password, this is limited, but obviously not fool proof. ) Fortunately for me, it was 59p and one that I liked, and was sitting on the fence prior to purchasing, the option to disable in app purchases isn't a great one, unless the iphone/ipod/ipad is 100% for kids use. but as he asked for the free app before hand i'm pretty sure he knew how this app store worked better than her.

    1. David Barrett

      Social Engeneering?

      ..."4 yo bought Angry birds on wife's iphone, he had asked for a free app prior to purchase"

      Sounds like he knew exactly what he was doing! :)

  18. MrTrilby

    Apple provide options to prevent exactly that happening

    She wants to look at "Restrictions". There's a specific option to turn "Installing Apps" to off that prevents what happened to her. Set on all our iOS devices for exactly that reason. Whilst she's at it, she might want to consider restricting "iTunes" and "You Tube" too.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. GaryH
    Big Brother


    easy (on iphone but assume it pplies to ipad and touch) -

    go to settings / general / scroll down to restrictions.

    enter a passcode (if you dont already have one set)

    Now you can control what functions are available (eg location / camera / install apps); in-app purchases (which is what the watchdog story was about) and what content and ratings are allowed.

    hand over device to toddler and enjoy!


    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Meh, is that all

    Gone AC to save blushes and protect the innocent.

    One of my nephews bid on a tractor on my sister's ebay account when he was four.

    My friend bought a drive-around lawn mover after his son played with eBay on his laptop too, another friend had a near encounter with a power boat.

    Kids, either auto logout of these sites or don't let the kids use your stuff (he said ironically with laptop stealing daughter).

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