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Should Apple countersue parents for neglecting their kids?

A judge has decided that a case in which parents accuse Apple of making it too easy for kids to make in-app purchases can go forward. But is legal action the right approach?

One of the allegedly enticing apps.
Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Someday there will be a headline that will read: "Parents sue themselves over their own failure to bring up their children."

Until then, we must enjoy legal actions in which parents band together to stop big, bad corporations from mercilessly corrupting their children and bankrupting the harassed people who brought them into the world.

For example, take the group of parents who last year sued Apple, accusing the company of making it too easy for little Johnny and Jemima to make in-app purchases on cute games like Smurfs Village.

The BBC reported earlier this week that Apple had asked for the case to be dismissed, because in-app purchasing can easily be disabled. However, a U.S. district judge declared that the case may move forward in an orderly fashion, as long as Apple buys some virtual gavels for the court system's new iPhone app "So Sue Me."

Oh, of course, I'm kidding about that last part.

Recently, Apple changed its rules and now requires two passwords for anyone to purchase anything from within its apps.

Pennsylvania attorney and parent Garen Meguerian, who filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, reportedly insists that these apps are addictive and that parents may be entirely unaware of the financial hit they might endure in attempting to keep Johnny and Jemima quiet for an hour or two.

The Daily Mail reported that some parents claim that their kids have racked up charges of $100 or more per purchase.

Part of being a parent, though, seems to consist of being entirely unaware. Kids get you into trouble in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it costs, whether it's neighbors' broken windows or jewelry tossed in the trash can.

Can it really be the case that if Jemima makes in-app purchases once -- the costs going straight to her parents' iTunes account -- the parents don't then ensure that it doesn't happen again? This is surely something far easier to sort out than with, say, a ball going through a neighbor's window?

Meguerian's filing last year seems to have moved Apple to change its rules so that the second password is necessary.

However, Macworld reports that the attorney is continuing with the case because you only have to be 13 to set up an iTunes account and if kids know their parents' password they can make purchases.

Perhaps some might wonder whether the parents might choose not to give their 13-year-old the password, rather than participate in a lawsuit.

It may be true that Apple could do even more to make it entirely obvious that the kids might burn up a little of their inheritance. Perhaps Apple and Android -- is there anyone else? -- can get together to create standardized rules across all platforms.

But does it really take legal action to effect this? Can't everyone sit around a table like adults and work this thing out? Or should Apple, in a neat reverse pivot, countersue the parents for not bringing up their kids properly?

I wonder how many of these parents waft onto FarmVille and buy virtual cows or whatever it is you can do there when you're feeling especially mindless. Might they not use their own life experience to educate their sweet youngsters?