How to block in-app purchases on a child’s phone?

You’ve just checked your phone bill and something doesn’t look right. There are unfamiliar charges for in-app purchases, and you know your child is the one who made them. This is a common scenario for many parents, and it can be both frustrating and concerning. It highlights the importance of parental controls, which are essential tools for protecting your children online.

In-app purchases can quickly add up. Children, particularly young ones, might not fully understand the concept of money and might be tempted by flashy virtual items or exciting upgrades in their favorite games. A few taps on the screen can lead to hefty bills, causing financial strain and emotional distress in families.

This article will guide you on how to prevent in-app purchases on your child’s phone. We will cover the following:

Understanding In-App Purchases and Their Risks

In-app purchases are extra items or content you can buy within a game or app. They can be a fun way to enhance your experience, but they also pose some risks, especially for children.

Here are the main types of in-app purchases:

Unfortunately, in-app purchases can lead to unexpected expenses. Here are some examples:

When children are restricted from using apps they thought they could access, it can be frustrating and upsetting. They may feel disappointed or cheated. This is why it’s essential to have open conversations with your children about in-app purchases and set clear boundaries.

Blocking In-App Purchases on Android Devices

You can block in-app purchases on Android devices using two main methods: Google Play Store settings and device-specific settings.

Using Google Play Store Settings

  1. Open the Google Play Store app on your child’s Android device.
  2. Tap on your profile icon in the top right corner.
  3. Select “Settings” from the menu.
  4. Scroll down and tap on “Parental controls”.
  5. If you haven’t set up parental controls yet, you’ll need to create a PIN.
  6. Once you’ve set up parental controls, you can use the “Require authentication for purchases” setting to block in-app purchases. You can choose to require a password for all purchases, or just for purchases over a certain amount.

Using Device-Specific Settings

Some Android devices have their own built-in parental control settings. You can usually find these settings in the device’s “Settings” app, under “Security” or “Privacy”.

For example, on Samsung Galaxy devices, you can find the “Digital Wellbeing” feature in the Settings app. This feature allows you to set limits on how much time your child spends using certain apps, and you can also use it to block in-app purchases.

Other Options

If you’re still concerned about your child making in-app purchases, you can consider using a third-party parental control app. These apps can provide more comprehensive protection, including blocking access to certain apps and websites, monitoring your child’s activity, and setting screen time limits.

Here are some free parental control apps you can use:

You can also consider using a paid parental control app like mSpy or FlexiSpy for more advanced features.

Blocking In-App Purchases on iOS Devices

To prevent unauthorized in-app purchases on an iOS device, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on your Apple ID profile at the top.
  3. Tap on ‘Family Sharing’.
  4. Tap on the child’s name.
  5. Tap on ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’.
  6. Enter your Apple ID password.
  7. Tap on ‘iTunes & App Store Purchases’.
  8. Turn off ‘Allow Purchases’.
  9. If you want to allow purchases only with a password, turn on ‘Require Password’.

Alternatively, you can also disable in-app purchases on a device-specific basis:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on ‘Screen Time’.
  3. Tap on ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’.
  4. Enter your Screen Time passcode.
  5. Tap on ‘iTunes & App Store Purchases’.
  6. Turn off ‘In-App Purchases’.

These steps will block all in-app purchases, including subscriptions and one-time purchases, from the selected accounts. To allow specific apps to make purchases, you can use the ‘Always Allow’ feature in the ‘iTunes & App Store Purchases’ settings.

Additional Tips for Parental Control

Blocking in-app purchases is just one aspect of parental control. Here are some additional tips to help you manage your child’s phone usage and ensure their safety online:

1. Set Screen Time Limits

2. Use App Usage Limits

3. Explore Parental Control Apps


Conclusion: Peace of Mind for Parents

Taking control of your child’s in-app spending is essential for peace of mind. By blocking these purchases, you can prevent unexpected bills and ensure your child’s online experience remains safe and enjoyable. You’ve learned about several powerful tools and techniques to manage in-app purchases. Whether you choose to use your device’s built-in settings, third-party apps, or a combination of methods, the key is to take action and protect your child from financial risks and potentially harmful content. You’re not alone in this journey. Many parents are successfully navigating the digital landscape and creating safe and positive online environments for their children. By taking the steps outlined in this article, you can gain the confidence to manage your child’s online experience effectively and provide them with a safe and enriching digital world.