Ever since the dawn of free-to-play or "freemium" games - especially those with subscriptions - managing in app purchases has been something of a necessity for parents. Without the controls in place, it can often lead to parents being charged hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds (or dollars) because their child has become a little too engrossed in a game, and impatient to make progress.
A lot of it boils down to some games restricting features, or hampering the experience somehow when it's not paid for. Most of the time, progress within games can feel slow and arduous without making payments to buy in-app currency, gems or whatever else games offer for money.
And because parents are far more willing to download free games than paid ones, these in-app purchases (often quite sneakily included) can end up in big credit card bills. So, if you're a parent and you want to make sure your child can't subscribe or purchase anything within their favourite games with your money, this simple guide will help you restrict those.
How to turn off in-app purchases on iPhone, iPod touch or iPad
Since the launch of Screen Time baked into iOS, Apple has grouped together restriction controls all in one place within the main Settings app. Open Settings and find Screen Time.
Here you'll find a group of four controls which include the Downtime feature, app limits, an option to choose which apps can run as much as they want, and then a restrictions option.
Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions, now toggle the switch on at the top of the screen and then select "iTunes & App Store Purchases". Finally, you'll be at the screen you want to be on.
Here is where you'll find restrictions for installing and deleting apps, but - more crucially for this guide - in-app purchases. Tap on "In-app purchases" and then select "Don't Allow", and now no one will be able to purchase in-app bundles or subscriptions at all.
To add a further level of security, in the iTunes and App Store purchases screen, you can also select the option to always require your password to make new purchases. Providing your child doesn't known your Apple ID password, your credit card is safe.
How to turn off in-app purchases in Android
Android is different from iOS in that there is no option to just switch off in-app purchases. But what you can do is require authentication for every single purchase through Google Play on any particular device.
On the Android phone or tablet you want to restrict, head to the Google Play Store app and then open up the sidebar menu and choose "Settings". Now scroll until you see "Require authentication for purchases" and tap on this option.
Ensure the option "For all purchases through Google Play on this device" is selected, and now anytime you try to spend money - whether it's buying a premium game, or an in-app purchase - it will ask for your password. Just be sure not to let anyone else know what it is.
Another option for managing your kids' content is Google own Family Link service. It's an app you can download on to any device - Android or iOS - and set parental controls for screen time, purchases and so on.
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