How to Turn off In-App Purchases on the iPad or iPhone

In-app purchases on your iPad and iPhone have been a real boon to both developers and consumers, with the sharp increase in freemium games arising from the ease of in-app purchases. But for families sharing an iPad, especially families with younger kids, they can lead to surprises when the iTunes bill comes in the email — which is why it can be important to turn off in-app purchases on your iPad or iPhone if one of your kids uses it to play games.

Children using an iPad
thijs/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

These instructions apply to iPads running iOS 12 and later.

How to Turn Off In-App Purchases

  1. Open the Settings app.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Tap Screen Time.

    Screen Time on iPad
  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Parent control on iPad restrictions
  4. Switch the Content & Privacy Restrictions slider to on/green, if it isn't already.

    Content & Privacy Restrictions slider on iPad
  5. Select iTunes & App Store Purchases.

    iTunes & App Store Purchases menu on iPad
  6. Select In-App Purchases.

    This screen also has options to prevent your kids from downloading and installing apps and has iTunes ask for a password for purchases if you want even more control.

    In-app Purchases setting on iPad
  7. Tap Don't Allow to turn off in-app purchases.

Which Other Restrictions Should You Turn On?

A mother plays with an iPad with her kids
Getty Images/Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury

While you're in this section, you'll see other settings you can adjust to help protect your child. Apple provides a lot of control over what an iPad or iPhone user can and cannot do.

  • Screen Time. This setting first appeared in iOS 11 and provides powerful tools for both monitoring and controlling how much time kids spend on the iPad.The main screen includes a daily readout of how long the tablet has been awake and which apps have been active.
  • Downtime. This feature controls when people can use the iPad. If you don't want your kids playing games during dinner, for example, you can disable the tablet during those hours.
  • App Limits. You can cut down on how long your kids play or use particular apps with this setting, which lets you set a maximum amount of time per day that they can use them.
  • Content Restrictions. Like the parental controls on a TV, this setting uses content ratings to only show appropriate content. For example, if you don't want your kids watching R-rated movies on the iPad, this is where you can prevent that.
  • Web Content. You don't need to turn off Safari to keep your kid safe. The Web Content setting lets you block or allow specific websites and restrict all adult content with a single tap.