iOS 7: Preventing Unauthorized Purchases

Kids are great, aren’t they? Sneaky motherf—I mean, sweet little angels who would never spend money they weren’t supposed to. Well, if your kid’s got an iPhone or iPad, you may have found that using Restrictions is a great way to prevent him or her from less-than-angelic behavior like buying apps, downloading inappropriate movies or TV shows, turning off Find My [iDevice], and so on. If you’re not already acquainted with Restrictions, go check out the Apple support article on the topic.

Once you’re familiar with Restrictions, then, let’s talk about a little-known setting that could give you trouble. You may not know that when you authorize a purchase with an Apple ID password, by default you don’t have to enter that password again for 15 minutes. So your kid hands you his iPad and whines that he’d really like to buy a game, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease, and you type in the password to let him do so. Well, the little dude can then make any App Store purchases he wants for the next 15 minutes without you having to re-enter the password. Or if you allow an in-app purchase, he’s got 15 minutes to buy more of those, too. Nope, that’s not good.

To change this behavior, first go into Settings> General> Restrictions on your kid’s device. If you haven’t already turned Restrictions on, do that now.

You’ll have to pick a Restrictions passcode here, so choose a good one (and one that your child couldn’t guess). Don’t forget it!

Scroll down just a bit to find the “Require Password” section.

Touch that, and switch the setting from “15 minutes” to “Immediately.” 

Now your kiddo’s device will ask for the Apple ID password for every single purchase. What a relief! The only other important thing to know is that if your kid’s got an iPhone 5s and uses the Touch ID fingerprint technology to make purchases (configured within Settings> Touch ID & Passcode> iTunes & App Store), this tip probably isn’t necessary for you. His iPhone will ask for his fingerprint to purchase things every time no matter what the above setting is configured to do. 

Of course, if that’s the case and your kid is using his fingerprint to buy stuff, you must’ve already given him a credit card or an iTunes Allowance, right? If you haven’t, I’d suggest you turn off the ability for him to use his fingerprint to make purchases, and then change the password for whatever Apple ID the little punk is using. That’ll teach him.