How to avoid excessive costs of in-app purchases

In the not so distant past, there were regular press stories about kids that had run up huge bills on in-app purchases. Thankfully, Apple and Google have been improving things over the years, and now the default settings are usually sensible. You may however want to double-check things, to be sure.

So, here are some quick tips on how to set things up, to reduce the risk of your child from making excessive in-app purchases this holiday season.

For iPhones and iPads

It is possible to set up “Restrictions” in the device’s Settings > General > Restrictions menu item. However, once you’ve installed and registered the MMGuardian Parental Control app to your child’s device, you can also use the MMGuardian Web Portal to set similar controls, as shown in the image accompanying this post. You’ll be able to completely disable in-app purchasing. You can also set the age restrictions for apps, on the “Content Rating” menu of the web portal

For Android

PlayStore now always requires authentication for purchases within apps that have an age designation of 12 or under. But the key point to note is that the authentication is made by entering the password for the Google account used for PlayStore.

So the first thing is to ensure that your child does not know this password, or change it if they do! This will usually also be the Google account password used for other Google services on the device, such as email, unless you’ve specifically added a second account for PlayStore…in which case you probably already know what you are doing ;).

It is then straightforward to check or set things up on the phone itself.

  • Open the PlayStore app
  • Select “Settings” in the left side menu
  • Scroll down to the section for “User Controls”
  • You’ll see an entry for “Require authentication for purchases”, select that
  • Check that it is set to “For all purchases…”

Now, any attempt to make an in-app purchase will require entry of the Google account’s password.

Whilst you are checking this, you may also want to set up the “Parental controls” item, also in the User Controls section, to restrict installation of apps and games to ones with a suitable age rating.


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