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Bait apps: How to prevent kids from making in-app purchases

Posted at 7:49 AM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 09:41:46-04

If your kids play games on mobile devices, there’s a good chance they’re able to purchase items without your knowledge.

These are called “bait apps” in class-action lawsuits. Children who persistently spend their parent's money on extras are dubbed “whales,” a term traditionally used by casinos to describe high rollers.

Many parents say it’s far too easy to do and it can be costly. In 2017, Amazon agreed to refund $70 million worth of app purchases made by children.

So, how can you stop your child from going on a game spending spree? If you have an apple device, “Ask to Buy” is a set of controls that requires parents to approve each app purchase on their child’s device.

Google offers a tool called “Family Link,” which includes a setting for parental approval for app spending. Amazon has “Freetime” which automatically blocks minors from content inside its app store. For Facebook games, you’ll have to go into your child’s account and remove your payment method.

Also, watch out for Alexa. If it is connected to your amazon account, your kid can make purchases just by saying “Alexa order…” Amazon recently refunded one mother her money after her two girls ordered $5,000 worth of items such as iPhones, iPads and stuffed animals. Luckily, this setting can be turned off.

Iphone and Android users can view parental control apps here.