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Mom sues Google after 5-year-old spends $65 on virtual currency

A New York mom insists that Google Play is encouraging children to spend money by not forcing buyers to type in their password before purchase.

Run, jump, smash, and grab?
Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I had thought that, when it comes to tech, it was kids' job to educate their parents.

Perhaps that's why some parents don't get around to explaining to their kids that they shouldn't spend real money to buy funny money. (Yes, even Bitcoin.)

When the real money gets spent, parents don't find it funny at all. One New York mom was so livid when her 5-year-old spent $65.95 while playing the seminal game Marvel Run Jump Smash! that she decided to sue.

She believes she's been the victim of a run, jump, smash, and grab.

Ilana Imber-Gluck was incensed that Google allows a 30-minute window for virtual goodies to be purchased without a password being re-entered. This is 30 full minutes for a fascinated child to spend mommy's money.

In Imber-Gluck's case, she is now part of a class action suit intended to persuade Google to stop being an enticer. The lawsuit insists that Google attracts children to games, makes them appear free, and then lures kids into purchases "without the parents' and guardians' knowledge or authorization."

Google isn't the first to incur the wrath of parents. Last year, Apple settled a lawsuit involving similar parental complaints. Apple products used to have a 15-minute window. This has now been closed.

These things can lurch to extremes. At what point is a child competent enough to understand that not everything in life is free and that greedy adult companies will do anything to get money?

Last year, Apple refunded $6,000 to a parent whose 8-year-old enjoyed her dad's iPad and spent virtually and freely.

Which makes the $65.95 spent by Imber-Gluck's 5-year-old barely money at all.

Google App Class Action by jeff_roberts881