How to help prevent your kids from making in app purchases

It can be frustrating as a parent to find an unexpected bill or package arrive that your child has ordered without you knowing. Unfortunately, it is relatively easy in today’s digital world for your children to click on links in apps and rack up huge costs. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks you can implement quickly to prevent this happening.

Do not share your passwords

A simple and fast way to stop your kids from spending your money on your devices is to make sure they don’t know or have access to your password and payment information. It is also best practice to make your passwords as difficult as possible for them to guess and save them in a password manager that only you can access. We would also recommend avoiding names of children or pets as passwords, especially as in this case it is likely the first thing your child will try. To test the strength of your password you can use this tool.

Add Parental Controls for the device so that it requires a passcode before making a purchase

You can set up parental controls on Google and Apple devices that will restrict access to certain apps at certain times, and you can set it up to stop your child from accessing the store.

On an Android:

  • Open the Google Play App.
  • Press your phone’s Menu button and go to Settings.
  • Scroll to the “User Controls” section.
  • Tap on “Set or Change PIN option” and enter a 4 digit PIN.
  • Back to the “User Controls”, simply check “Use PIN for purchases

On an iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.
  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode.
  3. Under Allow Changes, select the features or settings you want to allow changes to and choose Allow or Don’t Allow.

Apple has also rolled out a feature called Ask to Buy, a feature that sends a request to the ‘family organiser’ or lead account when kids want to buy or download a new item. The family organiser can then use their own device to approve or decline the request. If the family organiser declines the request, no purchase or download will take place.

To use Ask to Buy:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name.
  3. Tap Family Sharing.
  4. Tap Ask to Buy.
  5. Tap your family member’s name.
  6. Use the toggle to turn on or turn off Ask to Buy.

Add biometric payments

A good way you can massively reduce this risk is also to turn on biometric payments on your mobile devices, if this feature is available. This way, only your thumbprint, or facial features alone will authorise a payment in an App.

Avoid setting up autofill payments on your accounts

Although it might prove to be a hassle to manually re-enter your details each time you download an app or make a purchase over your phone, you should completely refrain from storing your payment details on your smart device to remove the possibility of your child easily spending money on your account.

Speak to your child about making unauthorised purchases

Most of the time, children who rack up huge bills are completely unaware of the impact this might have on their family. We recommend sitting down with them and explaining that they must ask permission from you first before buying anything on your mobile devices.

If they are old enough, you could tell them how to spot when apps are trying to get them to make additional purchases, for example by leading them to the app store.

It is also a good idea to teach them how to identify online shopping scams. Fake websites, pretending to be well-known vendors, are very successful at tricking users into spending money for goods that don’t exist. Use our JustAskThales guide here to help you and your children learn what warning signs to look out for.

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