How to Stop Kids From Making In-App Purchases

Use these easy methods to prevent unwanted in-app purchases

Little boy using smartphone
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You should feel comfortable letting your children use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch without worrying that they'll use your credit card to make in-app purchases. While it's easy and convenient to store payment information in your Apple account for quick purchases, protect your information when your children use your iOS device. There are a few things you can do to ensure that they don't spend money on App Store purchases without your permission.

These steps apply to devices running iOS 12 and iOS 11, but take note of any callouts regarding differences between these two versions.

Disable In-App Purchases

Turning off in-app purchases prevents anyone from making unauthorized purchases.

  1. Tap Settings to launch the Settings app.

  2. Enable Screen Time if you use iOS 12. Enable Restrictions if you use iOS 11.

  3. In iOS 12, go to Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > iTunes & App Store Purchases > In-app Purchases, and tap Don't Allow. In iOS 11, tap the slider button next to In-App Purchases to disable them.

    Don't Allow option for In-app Purchases in iOS
  4. Exit Settings and return to the home screen

If your child is able to find these settings and enable in-app purchases, set up a Screen Time passcode so that only you can enable these purchases.

Require a Password to Make In-App Purchases

Another way to secure your device or your child's device from making unauthorized in-app purchases is to require a password for each purchase.

This method is helpful if you want to approve their requests when they come to you and ask if they can buy something. All you have to do is provide the password.

These steps involve Screen Time, so they only work with iOS 12.

  1. With Screen Time enabled, go to the Settings app and select Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > iTunes & App Store Purchases.

  2. Tap Always Require.

    Always Require option for Password for App Store Purchases

    If the other option, called Don't Require, is selected, then a password is required only once, and then subsequent purchases can be made without entering it again.

  3. Exit the Settings app. The changes are saved automatically.

Give Them a Special Apple ID

The Apple ID logged on to the device is the one through which in-app purchases are made. You can give your children their own Apple ID that they use to log in with on their device. When you set up their Apple ID, do not add a credit card during setup. This way, if they attempt to make an in-app purchase, it won't go through.

Create Your Apple ID page on Apple's website

After creating the new Apple ID, open Settings on your child's device and tap Sign in to your iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) and then log in with the new information.

If you didn't add payment information during the account setup, or you did but you removed it after setup, in-app purchases are disabled.