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Got kids? Have an iPhone or iPad? Read this.

So you have children and you have an iPhone or iPad. Chances are you let your kids use the iOS device for some children’s games or you’re lying.

We’re in the former category. Recently I’d noticed that my children had been requesting permission to buy a lot of in app purchases. It’s usually for silly things like a new topping for this gingerbread making application or some new accessory for a virtual puppy. I always say no. In fact, I think the kids market in the iOS app store is becoming increasingly aggressive in this monetization approach.

Anyway, I was comfortable that there would be no in-app purchases going on without my prior approval because I am always prompted for my Apple ID and my kids do not know the password. Obviously.

All was well until, at the weekend, my son asked if he could have a free game he liked the look of? “Sure” I said, “but don’t ask me to pay for any in app purchases”. And I installed the game for him, entered my Apple ID and handed it over.

Then, later that evening, I received about 8 e-mails from the App Store with details of all my wonderful purchases I’d made that day. Totalling $167 in 15 minutes, my son had managed to break the in-app purchasing record. And all because of my false assumption that you had to enter your Apple ID with each purchase. Oh no. By default, you’re good for 15 minutes afterwards… enough time to splurge $167 on accessories for your new game.

At least he kept his promise to “not ask me to pay for any in app purchases”.

It turns out I should have enabled Restrictions which are off by default.

If you have children, go enable these now. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions

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And set Require Password to ‘Immediately’

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Maybe even disable In-App purchases altogether. And remember, you should do this for all of your devices.

Gladly, I got in touch with Apple and they agreed that, since this was such an extraordinary burst of purchases unlike anything I’d done before, it was a suitable exception from their usage agreement (all sales are final) and they refunded the $167.

Josh

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Josh Post By Josh Twist
12:10 AM
20 Nov 2012

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Posted by Stephen Cleary @ 20 Nov 2012 2:49 PM
Thanks for the tip, Josh! In-App purchases disabled. :)

Here's one that I discovered: I set up my router to block the iPad's MAC address. This provides a nice level of safety and has the great side effect of disabling ads in most free apps. :)

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