How to avoid a nasty surprise on your iTunes bill

you'd never give your kids the password to your app store account, but what if they figure it out on their own?

Resident Mummy Blogger Jess shares her story of how a little girl obsessed with cat games managed to spend $600 on iTunes, all by herself.

This is Matilda. Matilda loves Cats. This is a tale about how Matilda’s love of cats nearly turned into a CATastrophe. Excuse the pun but I litter-ally couldn't help myself :-) Meow no more kitten, this story is fur-real!


Matilda gets around permanently wearing a cat ears headband, wears everything and anything cat related and loves to get her hands on anything cat themed. You name it; pillows, books, bags, pencil cases and even cat simulator apps on her iPad.

I think you know where this might be going :-/

You see, when Matilda was just 5 years old, her obsession with cats took an all time high. I awoke one morning to more commotion than our normal crazy household. It was barely 7am and I could hear Matilda crying her eyes out loudly and her Dad on the phone to someone.  I rolled over for my phone and noticed hundreds of emails coming through - ALL RECEIPTS FROM ITUNES! Never has a mother jumped out of bed faster in her life. I met my husband in the hallway who confirmed my worst nightmare: he was just getting off the phone to the bank and yes, it was true, Matilda had spent over $600 on in-app purchases for her cat apps.

I rang Apple Support fuming, as surely these things should be locked down - a 5yo shouldn’t just be able to spend that kind of money, right? Apple informed me that in-app purchases were not possible without my password. I said to the lady, “DON'T BE RIDICULOUS SHE’S ONLY 5, SHE DOESN’T KNOW MY PASSWORD!" at which point, through floods of tears, Matilda nodded, saying, “Yes, I do Mummy."  I nearly keeled over and died right then and there. Long story short, my 5yo had learnt my 8 digit password, which included capitals and symbols, by looking over my shoulder. She then had an absolute ball playing cat games with all the bells and whistles.  It would have been cheaper to buy her a real cat!

Matilda is now 7yo and her love of cats has not dampened BUT her parents' knowledge around cyber safety and security has certainly improved.  What I realised in that moment was that my children were no longer babies and if she could hack my iTunes account to buy cat games she could easily navigate herself around the internet and be vulnerable to be lead astray by online predators. Things change online when kids can read and write.

Life is a lot calmer these days and I don’t need to worry about Matilda hacking my iTunes, her online safety, or her expensive obsession with cats. We have Family Zone installed on our kids' iPads and it takes care of all our Cyber Safety related worries. One of my favourite features is that you can turn off the kids' ability to add apps or make in-app purchases.  No more screaming matches with Apple for this Mumma. When Matilda wants a new app we sit down together and discuss it. I review it to ensure it's safe and I’m not going to have to remortgage my house to have it. In the meantime I rest assured that Family Zone has my back and I’ll never awaken to commotion like that again.

By Jessica Hill, Family Zone

Jess is a mum of two and recently came on board at Family Zone after she worked as an Intelligence Analyst for the WA Police for 9 years. During that time she was placed in the cyber area of the Sex Crime Division where she dealt with families and victims of cybercrime, and her passion for cyber safety developed.  “I couldn't believe the enormity of cases in sexting, grooming and paedophilia that I dealt with on a daily basis. One of the common themes I saw was parents overwhelmed & not knowing what to do.  I really wanted to get involved in a prevention role where I could help families protect their children.  Family Zone is this and more!!” Cyber Safety Sorted!


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Topics: Parental Controls, Cyber Safety, Cyber Experts, parenting, in app purchases

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