How to stop children spending money while playing games on your phone

1 min Read Published: 03 Apr 2013

Money tip #213

You may have read the recent story about two boys who managed to spend £3,200 whilst playing a smartphone game on their dad's phone. This story just shows how easy it is for children to blow a small fortune on devices if their parents have not taken the necessary precautions.

Here are some tips to make sure your 'little angel' doesn't blow a hole in the family budget when playing on your smartphone or tablet.

How to stop children running up huge phone bills

  1. Don't let your children anywhere near your phone - but in the real world where children have their own phones restricting access to smartphones isn't always practical, so.....
  2. Supervise your children - make sure you know what games they are playing and what downloads they are activating. Create some 'family rules' around the usage of devices and limit your children's time playing on them
  3. Protect your passwords - children are clever, they can remember passwords easily and can tell your pin number by watching you input it, even if they can't see the screen. Change passwords and pin numbers regularly and always keep them from your children
  4. Unlink your credit/debit card from your account - if you use iTunes then you can purchase iTunes vouchers for your account instead of having your credit/debit card linked to it
  5. Use parental controls - check with your network provider what parental controls are available (they can for example ban the access to certain services) and make sure you have them enabled at all times.
  6. Cap your bill -  ask your phone supplier to cap your bill at a certain level to ensure that when you receive your bill it isn't a nasty surprise
  7. Restrict app purchases - to do this depends on the type of device you are using. Here's how you do it on the most common devices:
  • Apple devices (iPhone etc) - go into Settings > General > Restrictions then you can select that you need to enter your password for every purchase
  • Android - a pin can be set in your Google Play account and then this pin will be required for every purchase
  • Blackberry - You can only make purchases after logging in with your Blackberry ID and password and you will then be logged in for 20 minutes
  • Windows phones - you set up a 'Kids Corner' on your phone which restricts your children to only certain areas on your phone and app purchases are blocked

What to do if you do get an unexpected bill

If your children still manage to defy all of your security measures or accidentally run up a bill then immediately appeal to your supplier as they may reduce or waive the bill entirely, rather than incur adverse publicity.