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How to stop your kids making in-app purchases

By Mike O - August 12, 2012 6

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Games PIN prompt

One great thing about modern Android devices is the awesome gaming capabilities, and if you’re a parent like me you’ll understand just how awesome it is to keep a child busy playing Angry Birds on your tablet or phone while you push them up and down the isle in a shopping cart.

But one of the totally un-awesome things is discovering they have charged some in-app purchases to your credit card. For us luckily little miss 6 only caused $10 damage, where as my nephew cost my Sister $120 playing ‘Clouds and Sheep’. Ouch. I was to blame in our case because I knew how to prevent this sort of thing from happening but forgot to on what was a new Motorola Xoom at the time. Tsk tsk, I know.

One little known feature of the Play Store app is the ability to add another layer of security in the form of a PIN. It’s pretty straight forward, just open the Play Store app, go to Settings, hit Use PIN for purchases, Set or change PIN, and follow the prompts. There is a 4 character limit but that’s really all you need in this case.


So the next time your little ones try to buy a bunch of in-app coins/stars/points for a game or anything else from the Play Store, she/he will be presented with this:

Now you can pass your Android device to the youngsters without fear of bankruptcy.

Mike O

Michael is the founder of Android Analyse, a veteran web designer/developer & Android enthusiast. He loves designing and building mobile web interfaces and messing around with code for fun. How geek is that? Mike O uses a Samsung Galaxy S3 4G and a Google Nexus 7.

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6 Responses to “How to stop your kids making in-app purchases”

  1. Rodney says:

    This is useful for corporate, as well. We have customers with several Android devices – and this means we can allow them to share a “Corporate” Google account, which means app management is very easy for all devices – and we can now also prevent the end users from purchasing apps or making in app purchases against that account.

    Another win for Android.

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  2. Thank you thank you thank you! Wonderful simple solution. Made my android day :)

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  3. asttor says:

    The above method, the PIN, does not work for free apps. Is there a way to place a layer of security for free apps as well?

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    • Mike O says:

      No unfortunately but that would be great. My kids install free apps that spam the notification area. I un-installed 19 of them from my Nexus 7 last week :-(

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  4. asttor says:

    yes, I understand. That is exactly the same reason why I was asking. Thanks for answering.

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