Kids & Money: Is It Too Easy for Kids to Purchase Apps?

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Ordering appsWe have a lot of cool gadgets around our homes. Many of these gadgets offer the chance to easily purchase apps, games and more. As a result, you might find that your children can quickly make purchases without your knowledge — simply using the devices found around your home.

It’s important that you monitor your accounts, and pay attention to what is on your devices. You want to prevent your children from running up the bills with the gadgets designed to make your life easier.

Running Up the Credit Card Bills

Many of us have our credit card information and other information stored with our favorite sites. My iTunes account is connected to my PayPal account — which is in turn connected to financial information. If the PayPal account is empty, it automatically draws from somewhere else. We also have a credit card stored at Amazon for quick use.

All of this means that it’s fairly simple for my husband to download an iPad app that lets him take notes and organize presentations that he makes to his students. All he has to do is press a couple buttons. My Kindle came pre-registered, and ordering a new book is as simple as tapping the screen. There is a confirmation that asks if I really wanted to make the purchase, but that is taken care of with another tap. Easy as pie.

The problem is that it’s just as easy for children to order things from these devices as well. A friend recently lamented to me that his iPhone is full of games and apps that his children downloaded. He has no idea what they are — only that receipts for their purchase appear in his email inbox regularly.

Another issue has been the Kindle Fire. Some are complaining that the Fire is designed to make it extremely easy to order Amazon products online. So easy that kids are doing it — sometimes even by accident. This means that you could be experiencing a money leak and not even realize it until you’ve spent money you didn’t even realize was being spent.

Preventing Purchases By Kids

If you want to stop your kids from making these purchases regularly, you will need to take steps to make it more difficult for them. Unfortunately, this might also make it more difficult for you to make purchases.

In many cases you can require that purchases only be complete when the proper password is entered. You will need to choose a password your children don’t know in order for this to work. Then, before any purchase can be completed, a password must be entered. This adds another step for you, but it can prevent your children from running up the bills with such ease.

It’s also possible to turn off the wireless so that children can’t connect to the app store or Kindle store when using the device. They can play games and read books already on the devices, but they can’t make new purchases. Of course, this means that you will need to turn on the wireless again if you want to make your own purchases.

Bottom Line

It is up to you to be aware of the possibilities when you use these devices. So far, the Kindle Fire provides the most problematic issues related to children making orders. Understand this before your let your children use your electronic devices, and make sure that you are able to monitor purchases as necessary.

(Photo: pchow98)

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “Kids & Money: Is It Too Easy for Kids to Purchase Apps?”

  1. Steve says:

    I don’t think it’s that bad on the iPhone/iPad- you have to enter your iTunes store password to purchase something, and its more or less common sense to not give that to your kids if you don’t want them purchasing apps by themselves. After you enter your password, there is a 15 minute window where more purchases can be made without entering the password again.

    I read that there is no such check on the Kindle Fire, but I’ve never used one.

  2. Alan Zheng says:

    It is totally too easy for kids to purchase game credits. The Apple password (if you give your kids the password then you deserve to get a huge bill) has a cool down before you’re required to enter it again. During this time you can buy anything you want without re-authenticating. This should be fixed.

    I once almost accidentally spent $100 in a game because I was holding my phone upside down with my fingers on the screen. When I turned it around, it was asking for a confirmation to charge $100 to my account. These game designers strategically place the buy buttons in places easily touched. Not to mention if you get impatient and keep clicking on something the game designers take advantage of that and places the buy buttons on each of those successive clicks.

  3. You can also talk with your kids and explain that they are welcome to download apps AFTER they give you the cash – this will help them think twice before clicking, especially if you really mean it.

  4. Brian says:

    I agree with Kris above. In addition, parents can be PARENTS and tell their kids NO. Not as much fun, but helps raise fully functional adults that understand the way the world works.

  5. lostAnnfound says:

    Your friend is complaining about the apps his kids downloaded on HIS phone? Why is he letting them have access to his own phone? Take it away and, as Brian stated, be a parent and say NO.

    • Strebkr says:

      I have a 3 year old. I thought I would never let him play with my phone, but honestly its been a nice learning tool. I downloaded a few educational games for him and he really loves playing them. While he doesn’t know how to download new games yet, I certainly will keep that right to myself alone. I do see the value is letting him play with it though.

      • Shirley says:

        I agree that this can be a great learning tool, but…

        Do you think that this could give him the idea that he can pick up ANY phone and play with it? For example, if a visitor lays his/her phone down after using it or while waiting for a call. Can you make it understood that he can only play with Daddy’s phone and no other one unless it is handed to him?

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