Making allowances for underage iTunes users

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Reader Simon Tanner seeks a future strategy for the information age in regard to his daughter, iTunes account, and credit card. He writes:

I have an iTunes Store account. I also have a thirteen-year-old daughter. I refuse to give my daughter my iTunes account password because it links into my credit card. My daughter doesn’t seem able to create her own account because she does not have her own credit card. So she feels stymied and frustrated. Am I missing something here?

What you’re not missing is a several-hundred-dollar-hole in your pocket that might result from your daughter downloading a mess of angst-ridden godhelpus from the iTunes Store, so good on ya for keeping your password to yourself. However, you don’t want that feeling of frustration to turn her to the dark side of obtaining music in less savory ways.

You have ways to help that don’t require free and unlimited access to your credit card. Travel to the iTunes Store’s Home page and click the Buy iTunes Gifts link. On the resulting page you’ll find options for purchasing gift certificates, gift cards, and allowances. (You can also give specific music, TV shows, movies, and apps.)

If this were my child I’d strongly consider the Allowance option. With an allowance you can set aside a certain amount of money that your daughter can spend each month—from $10 to $50 in 10 dollar increments. When you sign up for this allowance you’ll also be asked to use or create an Apple ID for your daughter. This account can’t be used to purchase items that exceed the value of that month’s allowance. And you’re welcome to suspend the allowance any time you like. (You might mention that to your daughter should she be tempted to get stroppy with you in the future.)

An allowance can also be a good way to keep yourself on an iTunes budget. Although iTunes doesn’t allow you to create an allowance for the account you normally log in with, there’s nothing to stop you from creating a second iTunes account (with a different e-mail address but the same credit card) and setting up an allowance for your primary Apple ID with this new one.

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