Parents have lost one of the ways to dictate how much their kids can spend on games, movies, and music.
Apple (AAPL) issued a Support Page update on Wednesday, announcing that it was turning off its iTunes Allowances feature. Starting on Thursday, parents will not be able to open new accounts. Those who have existing allowances will see their accounts canceled. However, Apple was quick to note it’s not taking the money away and any unused allowance will “remain in the recipients account until it’s used.”
Apple’s iTunes Allowances was a favorite of parents who wanted to curb their kids’ spending. The feature allowed parents to input into their child’s account a set amount per month that could be spent on the content available in iTunes. The automated feature immediately turned off a child’s iTunes spending as soon as the amount was reached each month.
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There have been horror stories of kids spending far too much on Apple’s content.
In December, for instance, a seven-year-old child reportedly spent nearly $6,000 on in-app purchases in the game Jurassic World. Also last year, another child, eight years old, spent $1,400 on another game through their parent’s account. But those were nothing like the $46,000 a teenager reportedly spent in the iOS game Game of War: Fire Age.
The issue became such a problem that the FTC investigated kids spending too much in apps and ultimately required companies that run application marketplaces to install some security protections.
For its part, Apple has credited parents for their kids’ spending and has made it harder to make in-app purchases with the inclusion of requiring passwords, among other moves.
Apple’s iTunes Allowances created a handy way to sidestep those issues, allowing children to spend just a set amount per month before they were cut off.
Now, though, it’s gone.
So, what’s next for parents? According to Apple’s Support page, the company recommends that users set up Family Sharing, a feature that allows up to six people to share an account. Family Sharing includes an approval process that pings parents before their kids try to spend cash.
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To some, that additional transparency into what kids are trying to buy before they do it could prove extremely valuable.
If parents don’t want to set up Family Sharing, Apple offered one other option: Buy kids digital gift cards that will act much in the same way as iTunes Allowances. The gift cards can be set for a certain amount and will not run out until the child spends the total sum.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.