With children confined to their homes and taking online classes, there has been an uptick in the usage of smartphones and tablets. Letting children play on smart devices such as smartphones or tablets is totally fine, but only with the right number of restrictions. A few clicks can rack up huge expenses in moments if a child can gain access to stored credit card information. Given the circumstances, it’s become common for kids to accidentally purchase things on mobile apps. Even children’s apps that are free to use normally contain some form of microtransaction. Children that simply don’t know any better are likely to accidentally purchase items in-app, bet on online sports, or even donate to streamers on Twitch or YouTube. Kids can unintentionally drain accounts by tapping a colorful banner when watching cartoons or playing games, buying their favorite skin, extra lives, equipment, or even messing around with settings to disable ads and unlock extra features.
Measures to be taken
The most obvious way for children to get their hands on a smartphone or tablet is for them to be given one. It is common for parents to buy a smartphone for their kids to keep in touch, but a parent should take steps when setting up a new device to avoid any accidental purchases.
- If kids have their own devices
- Use screen time on Apple devices to disable any purchase in iTunes and app store, ensure to block any in-app transactions.
- Create a Google account for the child or their own unique Apple ID. Use parental controls to restrict purchases and access to inappropriate movies and violent games.
- Download the children’s version of apps on the child’s device such as YouTube Kids instead of the original YouTube app. The kid’s version apps are likely to have fewer, more filtered ads.
- Enable confirmation for any online purchase. Both iOS and Android devices have features that disable downloading any paid apps or limit in-app spending without inputting a parental password.
- Parents can install a parental control application that will restrict purchases and give a clear picture of how much time a child spends on specific apps and websites.
- If children share a device with their parents
- Turn on banking app transaction notification to avoid overlooking any accidental purchases.
- If your device supports guest mode, use it. Some android phones support adding new users and switching between profiles.
- Some banks let users set up a special account from which they can manage and view the account's spending. While some banks also offer kid’s versions of their banking app, which may include features like setting up payments to children for completing tasks and budget-planning advice.
- A spending limit is a must if kids are of an appropriate age to make small transactions independently.
- Purchase confirmation must be enabled in-app store by either requiring fingerprint or password verification for any transactions.
Post-transaction there’s not much a parent can do to reverse it. They can try reaching out to the game or app developers directly or dispute the charges with their bank. Parents don’t need to ban useful technology or lose any money to mistakes if they take the right steps ahead of time. Parents should prepare the device before handing it over to their children.
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