How to prevent your children from buying in-app purchases


A lot of parents allow their children to use their iPhones/iPads to play around with apps and games. This can be costly, however, if they’re using in-app purchases.

An in-app purchase is a transaction made inside of an app, for example, using real money in a puzzle app to buy in-game coins to unlock more levels. Children may not grasp the idea that money spent on apps is, in fact, real. They might be prompted by the app to ‘buy more coins now to progress!’ and your credit card is linked up to the App Store, so it’s easy for your child to rack up big money. If they don’t realise they’re spending money, chances are they won’t tell you they’re doing it, and you’ll be in for a big surprise when your credit card bill arrives!

Take, for example, Zombie Farm, a game where players build up hordes of zombies. The app boasts ‘Hours and hours of gameplay, Near infinite farm customization possibilities, No Internet connection required, AND It’s FREE!’, but it also encourages you to make in-app purchases in order to progress. Technically, the company isn’t lying to you – the app is free to download – but the purchases made inside of the app can really add up.

You might be thinking, ‘they need the password in order to make purchases, parents shouldn’t give their password to their kids’. In theory, this should work. However, let’s say your child asks you if they can download a ‘free’ game. You don’t see anything wrong with this, so you enter your password and hand them your iPhone/iPad. For the next 15 minutes, purchases and downloads can be made without entering your password. Scary, right?

Don’t worry, though. Follow these easy steps to prevent your kids from using in-app purchases and you won’t have to worry about unexpected app charges again.

Step 1: Open the Settings app and go to General

Step 2: Go to Restrictions and select Enable Restrictions

iPhone Restrictions

 Step 3: You’ll be prompted to set a passcode. It’s probably a good idea to choose one that isn’t easy for your kids to guess.

iPhone Restrictions Passcode

 Step 4: Scroll down to the Allowed Content section and turn In-App Purchases off.

Step 5: Change Require Password from 15 minutes to Immediately – now you’ll need a password every single time you make a purchase or download.

In-App Purchases iPhone

Note: If you want to reverse this process for any reason, go back to Settings, General and Restrictions, and you’ll be prompted to enter the passcode you created. Select Disable Restrictions, enter your passcode again and you’re done.

In-app purchases can be dangerous, especially if you have small children. Trusting your children is great, but accidents happen. Keep your phones and other gadgets secure.

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