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Tweens + iTunes = Pay it Again, Sam


Downloading spree costs plenty.

My daughter went on an end-of-summer iTunes binge and is now paying the price.

She told me beforehand that she was downloading a few songs, and I reminded her she would have to pay me for them when I received the bill. A month later, when I opened my credit card statement, "a few songs" turned out to be nearly $100 worth of music.

This overindulgence on $1.99 tracks at the Apple (AAPL) iTunes store provided an ideal teachable moment. The kid didn't have enough money to pay back her entire obligation. So I agreed to take $35 upfront and she'll reimburse me over the next few months in a series of installments. Plus interest.

"I don't like how it feels to be in debt," she said. That's my girl!

This temporary discomfort has successfully refocused my 12-year-old on how much money she's earning and what she's spending it on. On our seasonal trek to the corn maze and pumpkin patch, my daughter chose the $3 candy apple instead of the $5 caramel and M&Ms variety.

In addition to seeking a steady babysitting job, she's working on the strategy to drive traffic to her advice blog, which can then be monetized with Google (GOOG) text ads. I'm helping her with that one.

My daughter and I agreed that for any future iTunes purchases, she will use a gift card. These are by far the most popular birthday gifts in her age group. They are also easy to find in the gift card aisle at supermarkets and drugstores.

Here's the best step-by-step description I could find on how to set up an iTunes account your child can access without a credit card.

An expanded perspective on technology and tweens comes from Monica Vila, The Online Mom. (See Owning Cell Phones, iPods, and Other Tech Toys).

For more on the subject of the true value of moms, here' s a report from Hoofy & Boo.

How do you manage your child's online purchasing? Post a comment below.
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