an eye4 min read

Kids vs. In-App Purchases: 6 Tips to Prevent a Surprise Hefty Bill!


In a world where we can order whatever we want at the click of a button, adults and children alike adore the instant gratification aspect of the Internet.

With Cyber Monday looming, and ads galore headed our way, we know that we can be easily enticed with an ‘Amazing!’ or ‘Fantastic!’ offer.

However, it’s not just internet ads that can catch our eye – in-app purchases are also something to be wary of. With in-app purchases, it is all too easy to rack up the credit card bill by paying for added extras – whether it’s accidentally or on purpose.

As all parents will know – once a kid gets their hands on a device and starts playing games or music, they’re pretty susceptible to targeted ads. Additionally, it may not be obvious to a child when they are being charged for something they’ve clicked on.

Did you know that there are three types of in-app purchases?

Subscriptions: You pay to access content from an app or service for a fixed period of time e.g. weekly, monthly, yearly, quarterly.

Consumable purchases: The one that really appeals to kids! For instance, bonus coins, gems, or characters in certain games.

Non-consumable purchases: For example, access to certain game levels, or ad removers.

So what can you do to keep a check on in-app purchases?

✅ Permissions: Keep the lines of communication open so your kids will check with you first before paying for something online. It’s all too easy for kids to make in-app purchases by accident these days – especially if they know your credentials! – so having these conversations beforehand should help with your child’s understanding of how to avoid paying for something by mistake.

✅ Check access: Using a parental control app or adjusting settings on a device to block in-app purchases is the first step in managing these types of purchases.

✅ Limit screen time: Similarly, using a parental control app can help you limit screen time so your child is in less danger of overspending! You can also see what sites they’ve been visiting to make sure they’re safe, child-friendly, and inoffensive.

✅ Subscriptions dates: It may well be that you’ve agreed to make an in-app purchase, for a fixed period of time – but some subscriptions renew automatically, even though you no longer wish to pay for it. Keep track of subscription dates by adding a reminder to your or your child’s device so that you remember to cancel subscriptions before the next payment is due.

✅ Choose wisely: Some apps may be slightly more expensive but don’t include in-app purchases. For little kids especially, these may be a safer option – you might pay more initially, but you don’t run the risk of any surprise charges later on!

✅ Avoid scams: Young people shopping online are often told that additional purchases or subscriptions are required in order to complete a purchase. This trick is particularly common for sites that offer music downloads. To avoid these types of scams, teach your child to comparison shop on other sites – this will help them to be savvier when using apps.

It’s wonderful to live in an age where we can make purchases at the click of a button – but it’s important not to get carried away. This Cyber Monday, make sure you adopt safe practices so that you and your loved ones can enjoy using their favorite apps with peace of mind.

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