How to Prevent Kids from Making Purchases on iPad or iPhone

Whether your child has their own iPad or iPhone, or you let them borrow yours occasionally, you definitely don’t want them buying things without your permission. Certainly, you don’t want them purchasing anything expensive, but even if they are not spending a lot when they make the purchase, there are other reasons you may want to prevent them from freely buying whatever they like – whether it is a new game or an in-app purchase of some silly gems or coins. In this article, we will tell you about the different features available on iPad and iPhone that you can use to prevent unauthorized purchases.

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Prevent In-App Purchases

You can use Screen Time to prevent purchases from the App Store and other Apple services.

Set Up Screen Time

screen time in settings

From either your own, or your child’s device, you can turn on Screen Time.

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time. Tap Turn on Screen Time.
  2. Tap Continue and then choose from
    • This is My iPhone (iPad).
    • This is My Child’s iPad (iPhone).
  3. In order to prevent your child from changing their own Screen Time settings, you will need to set up a Screen Time passcode. Tap Use Screen Time Passcode or Parent Passcode if you are on your child’s device.
  4. Enter a passcode. Re-enter the passcode.
  5. Enter your Apple ID and password. This will help you if you ever forget your Screen Time passcode.

See also: What Is Screen Time Password? How You Can Reset It

Block In-App Purchases

After you have set up Screen Time, you can block in-app purchases.

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.
  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and if prompted, enter the passcode and turn on Content & Privacy.
  3. Select iTunes & App Store Purchases.
  4. Tap In-app Purchases. Select Don’t Allow.

See also: What You Can Do with an Apple ID without an Apple Device

Turn on Ask to Buy

ask to buy in settings

When you are using Family Sharing, the family organizer can use their own device to turn on Ask to Buy.

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How Does Ask to Buy Work

If your child wants to make a purchase or download a new game or app, they will be prompted to send a request to the family organizer, who will then approve or decline the request. The family organizer will see what it is the child wants to buy, and be able to learn more about the app or game before deciding whether to approve the purchase. This only works for new purchases. Ask to Buy is on by default for any family member under 13. Ask to Buy can be turned on for any family member who isn’t an adult.

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How to Turn Ask to Buy On or Off

On iPhone or iPad

The family organizer can use their iPad or iPhone to turn On/Off Ask to Buy.

  1. Go to Settings and select your name at the top of the list.
  2. Select Family Sharing, then under Shared with your Family, tap on Ask to Buy.
  3. You will see a list of Children in your Family. Select the child’s name.
  4. Tap the toggle switch next to Ask to Buy to turn it On or Off.

On Mac

The family organizer can use their Mac to turn On/Off Ask to Buy. On Mac running Catalina or later:

  1. Go to Apple menu  > System Preferences > Family Sharing.
  2. Select Ask to Buy in the sidebar.
  3. Under Enable for, check or uncheck the box next to the child’s name.

For Macs running Mohave or earlier:

  1. Go to Apple menu  > System Preferences > iCloud.
  2. Click on Manage Family. Select the child’s name.
  3. Select Ask to Buy.

Approve or Decline a Request to Buy

The family organizer can use an Apple device to approve or decline a request from a family member.

  1. You will receive a notification with your family member’s buy request. You will be able to get more information about the item that they wish to buy. If you missed the notification, find it in the Notification Center.
  2. After you open the notification, there will be an option to Approve or Decline the request.
  3. If you choose to approve, you will need to sign in with your Apple ID and password to complete the purchase.

On Your Device

If you are letting your child use your iPhone or iPad, you can block them from making purchases from the App Store and iTunes Store. You can require a password (or Face/Touch ID) for every purchase made from your device.

See also: Can’t Remove iOS Apps (No ‘X’ Button)? Fix

There are only two options for iPhone, iPad and Mac:

  • Require a password for every purchase.
  • Require a password after 15 minutes – if you entered your password in the last 15 minutes you won’t have to again.

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With either choice it would be difficult for your child to make a purchase on your device without your permission.

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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