Back in 2013, Apple agreed to settle a two year-old lawsuit with a group of parents over unauthorized in-app purchases made by their kids. The parents claimed that their kids had completed in-app purchases without their knowledge because of an oversight in the way in-app purchases actually work.
Of course, all this could have been prevented if parents had restricted the usage of in-app purchases in the first place, but admittedly, not everyone knows you can make in-app purchases, and more importantly, I don’t think anyone (especially parents) knows that you can turn off in-app purchases in iOS.
How to disable in-app purchases on iPhone or iPad
If you have a kid that uses your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and if you don’t want to get a bad surprise, it might be a good idea to restrict in-app purchases. This is how to do it.
Step 1: Go to Settings > General > Restrictions, and tap “Enable Restrictions.”
Step 2: You will be required to set a 4 digit passcode. Confirm your passcode by typing it in a second time.
Step 3: Scroll down a little bit and turn in-app purchases Off.
From now on, no one will be able to make in-app purchases on your device, including you. That means that if you want to make an in-app purchase, you will have to go back to the Settings and turn in-app purchases On again.
Trying to make an in-app purchase will now result in giving you the error message seen at the top of this post.
Fortunately, my daughter is still too young to figure out how to download stuff in the App Store, but it’s only a matter of time. I’ll definitely make sure to turn off in-app purchases to prevent any “accidental” download.