Apple recently got over a huge controversy involving in-app purchases by kids and unsuspecting parents who lost thousands of dollars (and were compensated later).

But the fact is this thing keeps happening very frequently: you let your kid use your iPad and pop! Within minutes, you have purchased an app, or bought something through in-app purchase and your credit card is billed.

Although we’ve covered parental controls and content restrictions here at iGeeksBlog, this post is specifically for turning off three things:

How to Prevent Kids from Buying Apps on iPad and iPhone

  1. Installation of apps
  2. In-app purchases
  3. Password saving (when you download an app, your iPad will ask for the password every time)

Also, we’re looking at the possibility of removing your credit card information from your iTunes / Apple ID so that even if someone tries to purchase an app, they can’t go forward and buy the app.

1. Turning off Installation of Apps

One of the easiest ways to make sure your kid doesn’t end up purchasing an app from the App Store – or even download a free app – is to turn on restrictions for this. To do this:

  • Go to Settings → General → Restrictions
  • If Restrictions are disabled, enable them. If they’re enabled, you have to enter the passcode. (Forgot restriction passcode? Read this to reset)
  • Scroll down to where there’s a switch for Install Apps
  • Turn this OFF

The only downside to this is that your kid won’t be able to download even free apps.

2. Turn-off In-App Purchases

Over 70% of the cases of accidental purchases come from in-app purchases. This is not shocking because in-app purchases have so far been a little sliding-under-the-table types (although Apple fixes this). Turning off in-app purchases is easy.

  • Go to Settings → General → Restrictions
  • Scroll down and turn off In-App Purchases

Again, this doesn’t prevent your kid from purchasing apps from the app store. To prevent the whole fiasco, there are only two more steps.

3. The Require Password Lock

There are two ways you’ll be prompted for password every time you download an app from the App Store. You will either be asked to enter the password for every download, or you will be asked to type the password once and that will be authentication for fifteen minutes. In that fifteen minutes, you can download as many apps but you won’t be asked for the password.

If you just entered the password (not just for apps but for music or any other authentication) and your kid just happened to use it in the next fifteen minutes to download/buy apps, that’s more expenditure.

The setting to turn this off is simple:

  • Go to SettingsGeneralRestriction
  • Tap on Require Password
  • Change it to Immediately

4. Removing Credit Card Info

As a last resort, if you want to let your kid download only free apps on your iPad, this is the step:

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap on iTunes & App Stores
  • Tap on your Apple ID right on top
  • Now tap on View Apple ID (and enter the password for your Apple ID)
  • Once your Apple ID loads, tap on Payment Information
  • In the credit card type, select None

This effectively prevents any downloads that are purchases. But it will still let your kid download free apps. In-app purchases are disabled so he/she won’t be able to do IAPs.

Also read up our post on content restrictions that will prevent inappropriate apps, music, TV shows and movies from showing up on your kid’s iPhone/iPad.