So you’ve bought an iPad for Christmas, or an iPod touch perhaps – or there’s a new iPhone in the house. Across this festive season a whole stack of cash across Australia was spent on iDevices and in many cases those devices will end up in the hands of the little ones in the family – EFTM has all the tips to keep your device safe, and your iTunes account protected from unwanted purchases.
One of the most common calls or emails I get is from a parent who has had a child purchase a whole stack of things within a “Free” App they downloaded onto an iPod Touch or iPad. While people like to get angry and blame the big guys for making this possible, it really is the responsibility of the owner to restrict these things and protect your account just like you do with your bank account and even the cash in your wallet.
With 30% of the almost $30 billion spent in Australia in the lead up to Christmas going on technology you can bet your bottom dollar there are a stack of iPads and iPods in the hands of the kids as the days go on, so we want to be sure you’re ready to prevent your credit card taking a hammering without you knowing.
Free Apps are great, but in a huge majority of the cases they also contain “in app purchases”. These simple little transactions can really add up. First and foremost be aware of this, and check before you download an app for your kids – you can not only see if the app has in-app purchases but you can also view the most popular purchases right from the App store itself.
If you are downloading Free apps, and they have in-app purchases you’re safe as heck if your kids don’t know your iTunes password. But as kids get older and more demanding it only takes one moment of weakness for you to tell them the password while you’re busy cooking dinner. Once they have that password they have the key to your iTunes account. The key to avoiding large unexpected expenses here is to have a separate iTunes account for the kids devices which does not have a credit card linked to it – however in a family environment that can be a pain because it’s one of the great advantages of the Apple ecosystem to share an iTunes account across the family devices so when you buy an app you can download it on all your devices.
So in these circumstances we’d recommend disabling your credit card from your iTunes account. Instead use iTunes vouchers which you can pickup at service stations and supermarkets everywhere. This puts a cap on the spending anyone can do on your account.
Disabling your credit card is easy, open up iTunes, access the iTunes Store, then open up your account information, your payment information and choose NONE as the payment type.
By car the best method of protection is to put in place “restrictions” on your devices.
Restrictions is a great set of options within your iDevice that allow you to stop certain things from happening. For me the most important one of these is to prevent “deleting apps”. If your kids are old enough to slide to unlock, they are old enough to push and hold the screen then press that little X when the icons are jiggling about, and in no time – the app is gone. Sure it’s easy to re-download, but what a pain.
In terms of protecting your account one great feature of restrictions on your iPod or iPad (and iPhone) is to simply disable all in-app purchases. This can of course be turned on and off by you at any time with a simple password, but as a standard setting it could save you plenty of heartache.
The process is actually quite simple.
Firstly open up Settings
Then find General
And Enable restrictions, which will prompt you to enter a four digit pass code. Entering the code twice to confirm and you’re set to go.
There are a huge number of restrictions you can put in place and several you should be looking at with kids about. Most importantly slide across to disable “in-app purchases”
Scroll down to “Allowed Content” and consider a few things to really ensure you’re taking advantage of all the settings and features of the various Apple app stores. Choose your country in the “ratings for” section.
Remove the option for explicit music and podcast to be played
Restrict the ratings for movies, TV shows and Apps that can be used. This won’t delete items with a higher rating, but to access them you will need to disable restrictions – and in doing so enter the pass code, so you can watch and play all the things you want – when the kids aren’t around.
There is also the option of restricting Safari to only access certain website. Apple has its own list, however you can easily add your own to this also.
That is about 5 minutes of your life which may not only save you unexpected costs on your account, but also keep the type of content your kids are seeing to something age appropriate.
And when it’s all said and done, for every circumstance that requires your password on request from your children – it’s a great opportunity to have a chat with them and explain the cost of things and the importance of taking care of a password and payment information – they can’t learn too young!
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.