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In-App Purchases offers users the ability to buy new functionality or upgrades for a particular game or application on a Smart phone or Tablet device. They are a way for developers to charge players for only the parts of the game they are using.

Because these transactions can range in value from a few pence to tens of pounds it is important for parents to understand how to control access to then on devices their children may be using.

Fact 1: In nearly all circumstances a password will be required to make these purchases. Fact 2: There are some specific scenarios where a parent has entered the password themselves in the last 15 minutes when no password is requested. Fact 3: Smartphones have settings to determine whether a password is always required and should be setup by parents when children are to be using them. Fact 4: To update your iPhone/iPad Operating System and ensure you are on the most secure version, perform the following

  1. Plug your iPhone/iPad into a PC via the white USB cable.
  2. If it doesn't open automatically open your iTunes software.
  3. You will be automatically prompted to update your device.
  4. Ensure you have transferred any purchases and backed up the device by right clicking it in the Devices list and selecting Backup and Transfer Purchases in turn.
  5. With the Device selected in the list click the Update button.
  6. Do not disconnect your device until prompted to do so.
Fact 5: Where children are using a Smartphone it is a good idea to setup a separate (and financially limited) Account for them to avoid unexpected charges:

  1. Tap Settings, scroll down and select Store.
  2. Tap Sign Out.
  3. Tap Create New Account.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions.
Fact 6: Another alternative is to use (iTunes) gift cards as a safer way of maneaging credit on a smart phone. You can then log into this account before your children use the iPhone as follows:

  1. Tap Settings, scroll down and select Store.
  2. Tap Sign Out.
  3.  Tap Sign In and enter the children's iTunes account details.
Fact 7: You can disable In-App Purchases for the device in general, as follows on the iPhone:

  1. Tap Settings, then select General.
  2. Scroll down and select Restrictions.
  3. Tap Enable Restrictions and enter (and confirm) a pass code for the iPhone.
  4.  Tap the In-App Purchases slider so it switched to Off.
Fact 8: Finally, you can log out of the store before handing the device to a child:

  1. Tap Settings, scroll down and select Store.
  2. Tap Sign Out.
  3. You will now be prompted to login next time you make a purchase.

[image credit cc: flickr/intelfreepress]

Avatar for Andrew Robertson
Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.