How to prevent your child from making in-app purchases on your Android device

Inapp purchase

As a followup to Janet’s article about restricting in-app purchases on an iPad, here’s the guide to doing it on Android.  Like Janet, I’ve heard so many of my less technology-bent friends complain that they handed their Android device to say their nieces and nephews to play games and keep them busy, and lo and behold, they find some strange charges on their credit card from the Google Play Store.  For instructions read on.

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While not as big as the Apple store, there are still heaps of apps available now for Android devices. Add in the fact that you can now buy magazines, books, and movies, the possibility for someone to rack up a huge bill becomes a reality, especially when in the hands of a small child.Screenshot_2013-03-29-22-41-07

The way to restrict access can be found in the settings menu in the Play Store under the User Controls section.

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Clicking on “Set or change PIN” allows you to input a 4 digit numeric PIN.

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Of course, you get a chance to confirm your PIN (please don’t forget it ). :)

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Now you can click on “Use PIN for purchases”.

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Here’s one of the more expensive apps on the Play Store.  But then if you look at the lead picture of this article it actually pales next to the $134.99 in-game gem purchase.

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When you go through the purchase process, once you hit Accept and Buy, you’ll get the PIN dialogue. This obviously holds for in-app type purchases as well as the purchase of any magazines or movies in the Play Store. You can’t go any further until you put in the correct PIN.  All good and protected :)

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Of course, a smart kid will try and change or remove your PIN; however, once there’s a PIN set, you’ll be asked for that PIN to get into the User Controls settings.

You can always remove the PIN setting at any time once you’ve unlock the setting with your PIN.

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Also of interest is the content filtering setting. I haven’t actually played with it so I can’t actually tell you how efficient it is, but assuming it works, it’s a way of making sure that the kids only see apps (even free ones) that are appropriate to their age level.

Luckily, my kids are old enough to have their own smartphones these days, and I don’t actually lend my devices to little kids. If you do, you may very well want to protect yourself by leaving the PIN settings on permanently, or even just setting it before you hand it over to those hyperactive rug rats. :)

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