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Posted on Apr 17, 2013

Help! How do I know if a child is spending money on apps?

Help! How do I know if a child is spending money on apps?

It’s been in the news a lot, and naturally it’s been playing on my mind, especially as my boys love playing apps on our iPad – how do I stop my kids making in-game purchases that put me in big debt?

By chance my iPad was already on the correct settings as demonstrated to me by my 7 year-old when we talked about it.

“Look Mum, I’ll show you” he sighed a little crossly at me. “If I want to buy extra coins I press this, and then it asks for your password, which I don’t know.” I know he doesn’t know it (that’s a lot of ‘knows’) because when he wasnt to download a free game, it still asks for my password, and he brings the iPad to me to input it.

How to secure your device

If you have an Apple device there are a few things you can do:
* Don’t link your iTunes account to your credit or debit card in the first place. Then spending is limited to whatever amount of credit you have put on your account.
* Go to ‘Settings’ then ‘Restirctions’. You can turn ‘In-App Purchases’ off completely. Or leave it switched to on, and change the password setting to ‘immediately’. This means that every time you make a purchase you will need to enter a password. The ’15 minute’ option allows you to enter the password once, then make as many purchases as you want in the next 15 minutes – so you might think you have spent £2.50 topping up your little darlings app-coins, but you’ve actually given them a 15 minute spending spree opportunity.
* Check your emails – you should be geting an email notification for every purchase made. Check the settings on your email account to be sure these aren’t being filtered out or sent to the ‘junk’ folder.

Other devices:

Before handing your device to a child, go to your Google Play Account and set a PIN. This PIN will then be required for all purchases.

We’ve bought a cheap Android tablet for the boys to play on and have taken the extra measure of not enterting our WiFi key at all. We use a USB to connect to the laptop and download apps. So the tablet cannot be used for web browsing or buying apps.

Windows Phone
All purchases require a password, but you can add extra protection by setting up a ‘Kids’s Corner’ with restricted access to certain apps, websites and services.

Beware the Blackberry
Once you have logged in with your Blackberry ID and password, you stay logged in for 20 minutes. A child can do a lot of damage to your credit card in 20 minutes.

Office of Fair Trading calls on parents for help

The OFT is investigating free apps and web-based games, that encourage children to make in-game purchases or upgrades(for example fruit, coins upgraded menbership).

As part of the investigation, the OFT is asking for parents and consumer groups to contact it with information about potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices they are aware of in relation to these games.

You can read the full press release here.

Useful Links

* OFT Children’s Online Games
* Money Saving Expert (a personal favourite) – ‘My 6yr-old spent £3,200 playing iPhone game’ – how to stop it

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