In app purchases have been in the news again recently following the revelation that one junior gamer unwittingly racked up a £1700 bill on his dad’s credit card during a particularly prolific 15 minute gaming session.

The BBC One Rip Off Britain team paid a visit earlier this week to ask me what in app purchases are what the so-called ‘freemium’ business model means; plus I demonstrated how you can very easily be no more than three screen taps away from expensive in app purchases within a supposedly free game.

We also filmed a lovely sequence of me and my 3 year old daughter Evie playing CBeebies games together on our iPad.

If you let your children play on your smartphone or tablet then here are my 5 top tips which I suggest will safeguard you and your family from any inadvertent in app purchases:

In app purchase

  1. Never share your password, even if it’s to download a so-called ‘free’ app.
  2. Enable restrictions on your device. At present they aren’t enabled by default so you must take action to make your phone or tablet safe.
  3. If the game doesn’t need a network connection then turn on your device’s airplane or flight-safe mode – this will disable its network connection preventing any purchases.
  4. Regularly check your purchase history, make sure you recognise all of the downloads on there – each app store has its own easy link to do this.
  5. Supervised play – vet the games you let your kids play and supervise when they play. Not only can you keep an eye on what your children are playing it’s a great way to share in their excitement, entertainment and education.

I’ve written in the past about how adults can safely introduce their children to smartphones and tablets, most recently for the National Childbirth Trust. This item on in app purchases for the BBC will be broadcast on later on this year.