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Courtesy of Roblox

Don’t Be Fooled

Some video game apps are costing kids big bucks.

As You Read: Underline one reason Logan was so easily fooled.

Courtesy of family

Logan Ireland used to love the app Roblox. The North Carolina fifth-grader would spend hours on her mom’s cell phone, using the game’s pretend money to buy clothes and furniture for her avatar.

But last fall, Logan got a huge shock. Her mom was looking at a letter from the bank. It showed that each time Logan used fake dollars in the game, the app had taken real dollars out of her family’s account. Logan had spent $1,600 in just three months.

“I was surprised,” Logan says. “I felt really bad.”

This situation is not unusual. Experts say it’s important for kids to be smart about apps.

Logan Ireland used to love the app Roblox. The fifth-grader spent hours on her mom’s cell phone. She used the game’s pretend money to buy clothes and furniture for her avatar.

But last fall, Logan got a shock. Her mom got a letter from the bank. It showed that each time Logan used fake dollars in the game, the app had taken real dollars out of her family’s account. Logan had spent $1,600 in three months.

“I was surprised,” Logan says. “I felt really bad.”

This situation is not unusual. Experts say it’s important for kids to be smart about apps. 

How Apps Work

An app is a game or other program that can be used on an electronic device. Many apps are free or inexpensive to download. But it turns out that even cheap ones can have hidden costs.

Some apps try to convince users to make what are called in-app purchases. They’re things you can buy to make the app better or more fun. In some apps, these purchases are pretty easy to make. Users just click a button. The cost gets charged to their credit card or taken out of their bank account.

An app is a game or other program that is used on an electronic device. Many apps are free or inexpensive. But even cheap ones can have hidden costs.

Some apps try to get users to make in-app purchases. They’re things you can buy to make the app more fun. In some apps, these purchases are easy to make. Users just click a button. The cost gets charged to their credit card or taken out of their bank account. 

Sneaky Apps

Experts say that in some cases, kids are able to make in-app purchases without a parent’s OK. Some apps make it hard for kids to tell when they are being charged. For example, when Logan clicked on a button to get pretend dollars, she didn’t realize she was spending real money.

Roblox is hardly the only game that has confused kids. Experts say kids have made accidental purchases with other apps too, including favorites like Clash of Clans and Fortnite.

Christine Elgersma is a technology expert with the group Common Sense Media.

“Some app makers know that kids will make purchases,” she says. “They take advantage of it.”

In some cases, kids can make these purchases without a parent’s OK. And some apps make it hard to tell when you are being charged. That's what happened to Logan. When she clicked on a button to get pretend dollars, she didn’t know she was spending real money.

Roblox is not the only game that has confused kids. Experts say kids have made accidental purchases with other apps too. Some are favorites like Clash of Clans and Fortnite.

Christine Elgersma is a technology expert. “Some app makers know that kids will make purchases,” she says. “They take advantage of it.”

Finding Solutions

Elgersma suggests that kids and parents choose apps together. They should also use settings on each digital device to keep kids from making accidental purchases.

Logan says she's learned a lot from the experience. After her mom spotted the problem, they filed a complaint with the government. The local news reported on their problem. Finally, the family ended up getting back about $1,000.

Logan is doing extra chores to repay the rest of the money. And these days, she avoids in-app purchases. She tells other kids to do that too.

“If you get confused about whether there’s a charge, ask your parents,” she says. “Be careful.”

Elgersma suggests that kids and parents choose apps together. They should also use settings on their devices to keep kids from making accidental purchases.

Logan says she’s learned a lot. After her mom spotted the problem, the family filed a complaint with the government. The local news even reported on their problem. The family ended up getting back about $1,000.

Logan is doing extra chores to repay the rest of the money. And she now avoids in-app purchases. She tells other kids to do that too.

 “If you get confused about whether there’s a charge, ask your parents,” she says. “Be careful.”

1. What problem did Logan Ireland have with the app Roblox?
2. What is a hidden cost in an app? Include an example from the article.
3. What is the section “Finding Solutions” mostly about?

1. What problem did Logan Ireland have with the app Roblox?

2. What is a hidden cost in an app? Include an example from the article.

3. What is the section “Finding Solutions” mostly about?

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