Tech. Science. Culture.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Google Introduces More Locks on Play Store to Stop Kids From Stealing Their Parent's Credit Card

The ‘payments approval’ feature lets parents or guardians deny in-app purchases for young members of the family no matter the payment method.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Four screens showing in-app purchases for children attempting to purchase WOW Gems for Brawlstars
Honestly, I would deny my child any opportunity to purchase fake currency to use on a free-to-play game. You have to start them off playing good, ‘wholesome’ single player games that won’t nickel and dime players.
Image: Google

If you grew sick of hearing local news broadcasts about children racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt off in-app purchases, Google Families released even more features for family groups that lets parents or guardians further restrict how much their children spend on their phones.

Existing features for Google Family allow parents or guardians to set if their children are allowed to purchase paid content, in-app purchases, or anything at all. The app required children to send a request to the parent figure before they can commit to a purchase. The family member then gets an email receipt.

In a blog post, Google Play Product Manager Madhur Chadha wrote that this feature was already available for parents who set a common form of payment for family members on Android devices. Now, parents can set if children are forced to send purchase requests to their guardians if they’re using another payment method not set by the parental figure. The app should give parents details about what the kid is looking to purchase, and even control what payment method the kids use.

Advertisement

The image google chose to use representing the payment request is from WOW Brawlstars and its in-app currency WoW Gems. Young people are forced to “Ask in a message” before completing the purchase, which then sends a request to the parent account. Parents also have the option to find out more information about the app itself, though it likely just takes parents to the app’s about page on Google Play.

Google’s Family Link has been around since 2017, allowing parents or guardians to manage and monitor childrens’ apps and how much screen time they were habitually using. Google redesigned Family Link in October, introducing a new Controls tab to set screen time limits for each of their childrens’ devices or for specific apps and also manage app data permissions. Family Link also created a central tab for seeing app downloads, purchase requests, and blocked websites. The feature also added real-time location tracking for children’s devices, though Google has had to pay $392 million to state attorney generals regarding unwanted location data collecting.

Advertisement

The Google support page says the new settings are available in Google Families control panel. The family link plan also worked across other Google-owned apps like YouTube and the now-defunct Stadia.