Family Matters

On The Cost of Smurfberries...

Written by FM Staff on April 24, 2012 | Found in: Dinner Dialogue

Have you ever bought a smurfberry? Has your child ever bought a smurfberry?  Well, if they've ever played "The Smurfs" game for iPhone or iPad then they may have.  The game is so-called "freemium"; it costs nothing buy and play, but offers upgrades and expansions to the game which can incur costs.  The Smurfs, for example is geared toward young children, but offers "smurfberries"(the game's currency) in packs which can cost up to $100. This has caught many parents off-guard, finding about the charges afterward (one British family discovered their child's berry purchases only after seeing over $2000 in charges on their credit card statement,) and now a group has filed a lawsuit against Apple for allowing such apps to exist.  Apple took steps over a year ago to ensure that a password was necessary for all in-game purchases, but the plaintiffs argue that the games are "highly addictive, designed deliberately to be so."

Read the article: Lawsuit against Apple for 'bait apps' gets go-ahead (MSNBC)

Serve it Up:

    • In the case of a large in-game purchase: how much blame would you place on a child who bought the berries, how much on Apple and how much on the parent? If you found a big charge for smurfberries that you had to pay - what would be your reaction? At would dollar amount would the anger (and the punishment) go to the "next level?"
    • Is the main problem  the addictive nature of the game or the player’s lack of self-control?
    • What measures would you suggest to a parent that wants to avoid this kind of surprise purchase?
    • How a parent might respond in a situation like this depends a lot on the age of the child.  About how old would you expect a child to be to "know better" than make these kinds of purchases. What other factors might come into effect?
    • The bible tells us to bring up our children in discipline and instruction in the Lord, (Ephsians 6:4) what kinds of things did your parents do for you, or do you do for your kids, to teach them the discipline and value of money?