Tech

Keep Your Kids from Racking Up App Charges

If you’re worried that your kids are downloading paid apps, making purchases within “freemium” apps or charging your account for movies and TV shows, here’s how to set limits and prevent in-app purchases. With a few smart tweaks, you can let your kids enjoy their devices without the stress or worrying what they’ll accidentally purchase next.

Setting app ground rules for your kids

The best way to stop kids from making irresponsible in-app purchases is to moderate their device usage as a whole. Consider setting cell phone rules or creating a responsibility agreement with them. You can also change your settings to require fingerprint authentication for all in-app purchases.

Ask what apps and games are their favorite and find out whether those apps tempt users with premium upgrades (like buying an ad-free experience) or in-app purchases (like adding extra lives or virtual game tokens). Make sure your kids know what to look for and how to avoid agreeing to those charges when they’re playing.

Watch out for free trials too. If you or your kids download games that automatically charge you after the trial period expires, always set a calendar alert to uninstall or unsubscribe before those charges kick in.

Disabling in-app purchases

The best way to limit your kids’ access to premium and paid content, while still allowing them to enjoy using their smartphone, is to disable in-app purchases entirely.

Android devices:

 

  1. Go to the Google Play Store > Menu > Settings
  2. Turn on Fingerprint Authentication
  3. Enter your password. You will only need to enter this password when you first set up fingerprint authentication.
  4. Now, your device will require your fingerprint to make an in-app or other purchase (including movies and new app downloads).

 

Alternatively, families with Android devices can use Google’s Family Link app to set parental controls on app purchases, screen time and more.

 

iOS Devices:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions
  2. Toggle the switch to “On”
  3. Select “iTunes & App Store Purchases”
  4. Select whether users can install apps, delete apps or make in-app purchases
  5. Tap “In-app Purchases”
  6. Select “Don’t Allow”
  7. For further security, return to the “iTunes & App Store Purchases” menu and select “Add a Fingerprint” to require fingerprint authentication for all app downloads and purchases.

 

Keep in mind, these features aren’t just for kids. If you restrict in-app purchases, you’ll be prompted to enter your PIN any time a “free” app tries to charge you for premium content. That way you won’t be charged without knowing. It also adds another level of security in case your device gets lost or stolen.

Teaching kids how to use technology responsibly is one of the biggest modern parenting challenges. Learn how our partnership with Google Family Link can help you instill healthy digital habits with U.S. Cellular.