Some children and young people unwittingly manage rack up hundreds of pounds of charges with sneaky ‘in-app purchases’. The game itself may be free to download from your app store but some games use in-app purchases like buying extra lives, add-ons or simple to keep playing to generate income. Children, especially those with SEN can easily mistake the purchase warnings for play money.
How to turn off in-app purchases on iPhone, iPod touch or iPad
On an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, select the ‘Settings’ icon to bring up the menu. Scroll down and select ‘General’.
In general you will see a sub-heading called ‘Restrictions’. By default it will be switched off, select ‘restrictions’ and you will go to a sub-menu listing all the apps and modes you can restrict.
At the top of this page, there will be a strip that says “Enable Restrictions”. Select this and you will be asked to enter a PIN code. Choose one that you can easily remember and enter it twice – the second time to confirm. Top tip: use a pin code your child cannot guess and a different one to the pin code on your handset.
Scroll down to ‘In-App Purchases’, which should be switched to on. Hit that slider and you have successfully turned off the ability to buy more content within games (and any other apps).
How to turn off in-app purchases in Android
Android is different from iOS in that you can hide in-app purchasing behind a PIN code, but not switch it off entirely.
To do so, open the Google Play store app, and enter the Menu. Select ‘Settings’ in the menu. On the next screen, scroll down and select ‘Set or change PIN’.
A pop-up box will appear that will allow you to set your own PIN code. You need to re-enter to confirm and the option Use PIN for purchases will then light up. Tap on the check box next to this mode and you are done. Nobody will then be able to spend money in apps or on the Google Play store without your consent. Top tip: use a pin code your child cannot guess and a different one to the pin code on your handset
Turn off the ‘grace period’
Unless you’re running a really old version of iOS, you have the option to either require a password immediately for any in-app purchase, or to allow a 15-minute “grace period” during which, after an initial in-app purchase, you can make purchases without re-entering the password for the iTunes account. Require the password immediately. (This setting is also found under restrictions.)
Keep your password secret
Do not let your children know your password for your iTunes account or any of your pin numbers.
Use a gift card
Using a gift card is a good way of allowing older children to make their own purchases without raking up a huge bill. You can set up a iTunes account with their own details and simply select ‘none’ when it asks for credit card details and enter gift card information.
Letting children know how much they have available to spend should encourage them to budget wisely. And once they hit their limit, they’re done. You can review their purchases within iTunes.
Be money wise
Teach your children about online shopping and how it is real money and that if they are in doubt they should always ask.