Can My Kid Make Purchases from My Phone?

With technology at the forefront of our daily lives and multiple devices typically found in our homes, it is easy to assume that our children will at some point want to get their hands on our tablet or smart phone. We are even finding now in schools that the use of tablets, and particularly the use of educational apps are being encouraged, and commonly set as homework and found on school’s curriculum for children as young as five.

Today there are literally hundreds of thousands of apps available for children of all ages and whether your child is using it as an educational tool, or as a useful entertaining distraction there is no doubt that they will come across the dreaded phenomenon that is: the In-App Purchase. Regardless of the app, in-app purchases are on the rise whether it is for an ad pop up blocker, progressing onto the next level of a game or purchasing more virtual coins, candies or whatever captures the imagination. This means at some point your child whether young, naive and excitable or older, conniving and competitive will ask or just straight out try to complete an in-app purchase. This puts us the parents, and more specifically our credit cards in some serious trouble!

With all the hype over issues with kids completing in-app purchases over the last twelve months and racking up some seriously scary credit cards bills, us as the parents can no longer ignore it. So how can we ensure we are protected? The main and obvious recommendation from manufacturers is to ensure your child does not know your purchasing password, as simple as this sounds I know from experience that children are sometimes brighter and a little bit trickier than they like to let on! It would therefore be advisable to update your password regularly especially if you have an inkling that they may have seen you enter it recently or you find something unusual on your bills or digital receipts.

Other preventative measures that we need to take is first of all ensuring that we have updated our phone’s security settings for in-app purchases. Something we don’t always consider is handing over our device shortly after making a purchase. Sometimes, our password and payment information is saved for a fifteen minute window and the device will not request your password to be re-entered to make more purchases. That’s fifteen whole minutes of your child having a free rein of buying imaginary chests of gems and boxes of cookies, and starting from literally 99 cents a pop up to some purchases exceeding $100, it could be a very expensive fifteen minutes!

To avoid this potential downfall there are several options available. Specifically on our Apple devices such as the iPhone or iPad is to activate the ‘Restrictive’ area on the general settings, where you can set a PIN to stop any clever little monkeys from changing your settings in the future. Once in this PIN protected section you can then turn off in-app purchases all together by switching the toggle to gray. Alternatively if you have a Candy Crush habit or make purchases through apps yourself and want the in-app purchases left on, you can change the password frequency below to ‘Immediately’ this way whenever an in- app purchase is clicked on, a password request will be prompted every single time regardless of the frequency.

Finally if all else fails and your child is a sneaky genius who still makes purchases, it may be possible to make a request for a refund of any unauthorized in-app purchases. You’ll need your receipt and order number which can be found in your iTunes account, then on Apple’s website, iPhone and iPad users can submit a form to ask for a refund for an unauthorized in-app purchase by one of your children. There will be some hoops to get through to make sure that the refund is not being issued improperly, so it is important to make sure that your children are old enough to understand the importance of not making in-app purchases before giving them access to something that can incur costs to your wallet.

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