Earlier this week, we heard about a woman who received quite a shock: while playing a ‘free’ game on an iPad, her daughters managed to rack up $3,000 in in-app purchases. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this kind of story, and it’s definitely not the last.
If you want to know how to protect yourself from getting a huge iTunes bill from Apple, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
- Protect your password: The way that the woman’s twin seven-year-olds were able to make so many in-app purchases, CBC reports, was because they knew their mom’s password from watching her enter it in the past. Just like with your PIN number, use some discretion when typing it in – after all, it’s protecting your money the same way.
- Know what you’re giving your child access to: Despite their groaning and whining, you don’t have to give your children your iPad to play with. Yes, there are lots of fun games on there, but that doesn’t mean the device itself is designed for kids. If you’re not 100% confident that you know what your children will be playing with and getting access to, it might be better to get them their own device, like a tablet designed for children, or a previous generation of tablet you no longer use.
- Know your device’s settings: Read the manual for your tablet or phone so you know if your device has parental settings that can prevent unauthorized in-app purchases, among other things. While these restriction settings aren’t perfect, they should help to minimize what your child can do on the device. Again, these restrictions are particularly useful if your child has their own device, so you can lock it down and not have to keep turning them on and off.
- Don’t store credit card information on your device: If you only add funds to your iPhone or iPad through gift cards (instead of having your credit card tied to your account), your children will never be able to spend over the money available in that account. Losing out on $50 is better than losing out on $3,000.
- Introduce them to offline gaming, too: Sometimes, the older options are the better ones. If your kids are really intent on playing games on the go, you can look into a portable gaming system like the Nintendo 3DS or the PlayStation Vita. Many of the games are more expensive up front than the App Store or Google Play games, but you’re not going to be nickeled-and-dimed for every level and power-up in the game. There’s a huge library available for a wide range of ages.
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