Turning off in-app purchases for your kids and teens

Turning off in-app purchases for your kids and teens

If your kids have downloaded any apps, then chances are they feature in-app purchases. Games, especially, are loaded with incentives to purchase opportunities for virtual goods from skins to in-game currencies, extra lives and more. To protect your child online from overspending or inadvertent buys, here's how to turn off in-app purchases on iOS and Android.


What are in-app purchases?

When you think of spending money on apps, you might think of buying an app from the Google Play Store or iPhone App Store. However, you might not know that many apps also let the user spend money within the app itself. This is the basis of an in-app purchase — something you purchase inside an app. 



How to turn off in-app purchases on an iPhone and iPad

To turn off in-app purchases on an iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:


  1. Go to 'Settings'.

  2. Select 'Screen Time' and enable it.

  3. Select whether this is your device or your child's device.

  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to set a passcode.

  5. Select 'Content & Privacy Restrictions and enable this.

  6. Tap 'iTunes & App Store Purchases.

  7. Tap In-app Purchases and select 'Don't Allow’.


How to turn off in-app purchases on an Android

To turn off in-app purchases on Android, follow these steps:


You can't directly turn off in-app purchases on Android devices, but you can turn off purchases in the Play Store. This means you can check before your child downloads an app that offers additional purchases. If an app has in-app purchases, the description on the Play Store will say 'Offers in-app purchases'.


  1. Select the profile icon in the Google Play Store.

  2. Select 'Settings'.

  3. Find the 'Authentication' section.

  4. Enable 'Require authentication for purchases.

  5. Select how often you'd like the app to request authentication.


As well as turning off purchases, you can look at other parental control apps to help monitor and limit what your child can do on their phone or tablet.

How to set up parental controls on the Apple App Store

To set up parental controls on the Apple App Store, follow these steps:


  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

  3. Enter your Screen Time passcode.

  4. Tap Content Restrictions.

  5. Under Allowed Apps, choose which apps you want your child to use.

  6. Under iTunes & App Store Purchases, choose whether you want to allow your child to make purchases without asking for permission.

  7. Under Web Content, choose whether you want to restrict access to specific websites.


How to enable Ask to Buy on an iOS device

To enable Ask to Buy on an iOS device, follow these steps:


  1. Go to Settings > Family Sharing.

  2. Tap your child's name.

  3. Scroll down and tap Ask to Buy.

  4. Toggle on Require Purchase Approval.


Once Ask to Buy is enabled, your child must ask your permission before purchasing from the App Store, iTunes Store, or iBooks Store. You will receive a notification whenever your child requests a purchase. You can then approve or deny the request from your device.


To approve a purchase, open the notification and tap Approve. To deny a purchase, tap Deny. You can also write a message to your child to explain why you are denying the purchase.


Ask to Buy is a great way to control your child's purchases on their iOS device. It also allows you to talk to your child about their spending habits and the importance of making responsible financial decisions.




How to set up parental controls on the Google Play Store

To set up parental controls on the Google Play Store, follow these steps:


  1. Open the Google Play Store app.

  2. Tap the profile icon.

  3. Tap Settings > Family.

  4. Tap Parental controls.

  5. Toggle on Parental controls.

  6. Follow the instructions to create a PIN code.

  7. Select the type of content you want to filter.

  8. Choose how to filter or restrict access.


Types of in-app purchases

There are a few things that are the same across all in-app purchases. For example, these purchases are made with real money, not any currency used within a game or app. In-app purchases are only used to buy something within that specific app and cannot be transferred to other apps. They are online purchases with no physical cash involved. However, there are multiple different types of in-app purchases. The different types are:


  • Auto-renewable subscriptions. A lot of apps, especially games, require subscriptions to play them. Subscriptions usually vary from around £2 to £15 per month. Auto-renewing subscriptions will automatically take this monthly payment to keep the subscription active.

  • Non-renewing subscriptions. You can also purchase subscriptions as a one-off payment. Depending on the app, you can buy a subscription from a single month up to a year. Depending on the length and price of the subscription, this could range from £2 to £40+.

  • Consumable. One of the most common in-app purchases is for consumable items such as in-app currency, extra health in a game, and more. Many game apps get most of their money by selling in-game currency because the games encourage people to buy more continually. These are called consumable purchases because they get used up.

  • Non-consumable. You can also buy specific game features, for example, a 'pro' version of an app or a new option, such as a new car in a racing game.

 How to explain in-app purchases to your child

It's a good idea to explain in-app purchasing to your kids. Many apps encourage people to make in-app purchases with adverts, so it's worth explaining what they will get if they make a purchase. You should also clarify that in-app purchases, like buying something in a shop, use real money. A great example is talking with your kid about their favourite game on their phone or tablet. You can open the game, find the Store in that game and show them the in-app purchases they can make. If your kid likes playing Fortnite, you can easily show them the different character designs and weapons they can buy in the app, and you can explain that these are bought with real money.



How to set boundaries with your kids and in-app purchases

Making in-app purchases can be tempting, so it's important to set boundaries. You could talk to your kids and agree that they should speak to you before making in-app purchases, or you could agree on a limit for how much they can spend each week on in-app purchases. If you approve and can afford it, an in-app purchase every once in a while could be a nice treat. You should also encourage your child to be honest about how much they have spent on apps. Let them know that they can speak to you if they accidentally spend too much.


How to manage in-app purchases instead of disabling them


Rather than turning off in-app purchases altogether, you could manage how much your children can spend. For example, you could set up a prepaid kids' debit card (or teen debit card) that your child or teen can use for in-app purchases. This means that they can spend up to the money on the card. You can also set up daily spending limits or use other methods to monitor your kids' mobile phone usage


This lets kids make in-app purchases under supervision. This can be more beneficial than shutting down purchases completely as it gives kids some control and gives you an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids about spending and finance. 


Track your child's spending with instant notifications and set spending limits with GoHenry


The GoHenry prepaid debit card is a great way to help monitor what your child spends money on within apps. The parental controls in your GoHenry app let you track your child's spending with instant notifications. You can also put limits on how much your child can spend. Plus, your child can only spend money already loaded onto their GoHenry prepaid debit card, helping ensure they don't accidentally spend too much.


Our in-app Money Missions also help teach your children about financial responsibility. These are fun, bite-sized lessons and quizzes on a wide range of subjects, including spending wisely, saving habits, money safety, and more — all of which can help your child make wise spending decisions when it comes to in-app purchases.

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Written by GoHenry Published Dec 13, 2023 ● 4 min. read