iPhone 101: How to block kids’ accidental in-app purchases

A lot of parents are gearing up to gift their kids an iOS device for Christmas. If you’re one of them, take it from us: You’ll want to keep an eye on what they’ll be buying with that device.

iTunes makes it easier, enabling guardians to give minors an allotted allowance via the store, so there’s no chance they can overspend. But there’s another area that many parents are overlooking, and it happens to be a new feature Apple introduced to iOS this year: In-app purchases.

Last week, a new report disclosed that some parents are getting shocked with huge iTunes bills – often due to their kids’ not even knowing that they’ve bought stuff from within their apps.

The Associated Press, via the San Francisco Chronicle, relates the story of CA-based Kelly Rummelhart and her 4-year-old son. Unbeknownst to either of them, while he was playing with a very popular free app called The Smurfs’ Village app on her iPad, he’d charged up $66.88 on her credit card by buying up in-game “Smurfberries.” And those aren’t even the most expensive assets available within games like that. Some cost as much as $100 each.

So how do you block this from happening to you? There’s a little-known setting that actually lets parents restrict in-app purchases. Just hit the Settings app, and go to General, then Restrictions. Tap the “Enable Restrictions” area and put in a code. When you’re finished, an In-App Purchases restriction setting will become available to you.




Once you’ve got this setting activated, anyone who uses the device will have 15 minutes to plug in a passcode to make an in-app purchase. Once engaged, the user will have to re-enter that passcode to make other purchases. This should be sufficient to block accidental buys, at least in most cases. However, user reports suggest it’s not foolproof, so you’ll still want to keep an eye on the kids.

As for intentional overspending by kids (and some grown-ups too) – well, we’re still waiting for a setting for that one.

Via: San Francisco Chronicle

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  • The same thing happened to me. My daughter purchased $200 of coins for a game. I made the above changes & it worked! Thank you SO much!

  • You’ll want to keep an eye on what they’ll be buying with that device.

  • kb

    I just discovered this same incident with my 6 year old daughters tablet..  DRAGONVALE does the same In App charging, and the game was FREE.  My account was charged $950!!!!!  I had 32 charges over a 5 day period, buying GEMS that my daughter had no idea she was actually purchasing with my credit card.  Some were $99.99!!  Some were .99, 1.99, and 4.99.  Watch the games you children are playing!!!

  • stealth031

    Adriana—Thank You!!!  Wow!  Now that I know how to restrict in-app purchases (from my children), I should be able to buy a high-end sports car!  Well, maybe not, but it will definitely fix the problem and save money.  And finally this ongoing issue is solved!