Apple iOS Tip – Avoid Unintended Purchases on your shiny new iPod Touch or iPhone

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be considering the purchase of an iPod Touch or an iPad for you, the family or one of your children.  Please review the following tip on sharing an account and restricting in-app purchases.

All of my 5 children now have some kind of iDevice.  Yes, even the 2 year old is now the proud owner of a hand-me-down ipod touch from her older brother who is getting a hand-me-down phone from Mom.  She just got a new 4s.  Just so we’re clear, he will not be getting phone service any time soon but the 3GS will act as a fine replacement for his second generation iPod touch.

With all these kids having access to iPods, not only did I need to protect them from content, but I needed to protect the wallet from spending too much and from making unintended purchases.

The first thing we do is have all the 4 younger kids share an iTunes account with me.  This way we can share games across devices.  If one child gets an iTunes gift card, the others can benefit since once someone makes a purchase everyone can load it on their device.  This has saved a ton of money so “Bravo!” to Apple for this policy.

Next, we want to avoid the unintended purchase.  You may have heard about parents letting kids use their smart phones or iPod touches and then seeing bills for in-app purchases coming in from Apple later on.  This would NOT be a fun surprise.

Apple’s iOS (after version 4.3) does allow for your to take some pretty simple steps to protect you and your kids from making purchases without your permission.

Here is how I do it –

1.  Open up the Settings app.

2.  Tap on General















3. Tap on Restrictions















4. Tap on Enable Restrictions. After you perform this step, you will have to enter a pass code.  Write it down somewhere safe or make absolutely sure you will remember it – because you will need it to make any adjustments later.  I use KeePass password safe for many of my own passwords.  It’s open source (free) and has many great features.

















5. Disable In-App Purchases by tapping and making sure that the slider says “Off”.

Optional Step: On Require Password, tap on that and set the value to “Immediately”.  This will keep kids from installing an app immediately after you load one for them unless they know the iTunes password.
















I currently still allow the 15 minute timeout on my kids’ iPod touch devices – the two 6 year olds and my 4 year old know that they should not make any app store purchases without Dad or Mom knowing.  The in-app purchase thing is a little more difficult to explain to them since many of the games embed the purchases as part of the game play and for a child it can be confusing when trying to figure out what is play money versus what is real money.

This restriction will stop ALL in app purchases – this may not sit well with some folks but that’s how we’re running things here for now.

If you have kids, how do you handle this situation?



Lance Gilliland
Consumer Electronics. Technology. Media. Comics. Football. Family. Health. Entertainment. Great, now my fingers are tired. Follow me on Twitter | Facebook Google+

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