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How to manage your kids' app purchases

Restrict iOS purchases or assign an allowance

Apple's App Store makes it quick and easy to buy and download new software for your iOS device. But for the parents of iPhone-, iPad-, or iPod touch -toting kids, that process might be a little bit too easy. However with a few simple steps you can disable purchases from the app store altogether or set-up a monthly allowance. We show you how.

Option 2: Set up an iTunes allowance

If your child is of an age where you're comfortable giving them the ability to purchase some apps on their own, an iTunes allowance is an excellent way to control their spending. You can set up a separate iTunes account for them, complete with a monthly limit of how much they can spend--and you can even restrict it to age-appropriate apps.

In order to set up an allowance, you'll need your own Apple ID, and it will need to be linked to a credit card. If you have your own iOS device or buy media from the iTunes Store, you already have an account. Keep in mind that since the iTunes Store and App Store use the same account, the allowance will apply to purchases from both, unless you disable one or the other of the stores as per the instructions above.

Step one
While logged into your iTunes account, open up the iTunes application on your Mac or PC and click on the iTunes Store option in the left sidebar. From the front page of the iTunes Store, click on the Buy iTunes Gifts link in the Quick Links box along the right edge. On the subsequent page, scroll down until you see Allowances and click the 'Set up an allowance now' link.

Step two
Fill out the form on the following screen by entering your name, the name of your child, and by selecting the amount of the allowance - options range from £5 to £30. Remember that this amount will be charged to your own credit card each month. You can choose to have the amount charged as of the first day of the next month, or charged immediately and then again on the first day of the next month. One piece of good news: if there are any unused funds left over at the end of a month, they will roll over to the next month; that means your child can always save their pennies for more expensive purchases.

If your child already has an Apple ID, be sure and enter it here. If they don't have one, you can choose to create a new account here. Remember that when asked for a payment method for the new Apple ID, you can choose 'None'. If you enter a credit card, anything beyond the allowance that you set up will still be charged.
When you're done, just click Continue. You'll be asked to confirm the details and then purchase the allowance. Recipients will get an email letting them know that you've purchased an allowance for them, as well as how much it's for; if you chose to have the billing started on the first of the next month, they'll be notified again when the money's available.

Step three
You can review your allowances at any time by going to your account settings in the iTunes Store and clicking Manage Allowances. You'll see a list of all your current allowances, along with the ability to suspend, remove, or change the amount for any of them. You can also create additional allowances from here if you so choose.

Step four
Even if you're giving your kids the ability to buy their own apps, you may still want to have a say in what kind of programs they're buying. Once again, you'll visit Settings > General > Restrictions on their iOS device. If you haven't already, tap Enable Restrictions, and choose a four-digit passcode.

Under the Allowed Content header you can choose the appropriate rating levels for each of music and podcasts, movies, TV shows, and apps. In each case - except for music and podcasts - you can pick which ratings are allowed, or choose to completely disable all of the media of that type. For music and podcasts, you can simply choose whether or not Explicit material is allowed. And make sure to select the rating system for the country of the App Store you frequent.

  1. Restrict all purchases or assign an allowance
  2. Disable purchases altogether
  3. Set up an iTunes allowance
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