How to keep your kids (or anyone else) from buying on your Google Play account

Passwords, passwords, passwords

Have we mentioned lately the importance of using a password? Whether it's on your device itself, or any of your accounts, you've got to keep things behind a password. And that goes for making purchases from Google Play as well.

Android Central University — Security

A more recent bone of contention has been with keeping kids from racking up big bills on their parents' credit cards by haphazardly downloading anything and everything. That it's so easy to download apps and music and books is a good thing — but it also means it's easy to little ones to do so, ignorant of the cost — or the consequences.

But it's also pretty easy to protect your Google account so that there's a check in place before anyone else spends your money.

The first time you use Google Play ...

Google Play warning

For its part, Google does pretty much gives you every opportunity to secure your Google Play Store experience from unwanted purchases. When you first buy an app on Google Play for the first time — the first time after signing in on a device, that is — you'll have to enter your Google account password. That starts a 30-minute window, during which you won't have to enter the password again. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. If you're buying a bunch of apps, or books, or whatever, entering your password every time is simply an annoyance.

And then you'll be reminded about the way this all works, and given an immediate opportunity to change your settings:

Every time you enter a password for a purchase, you can continue to buy all forms of digital content through Google Play (including within apps) for the next 30 minutes without a password.

So, again, the default setting is for you to have to re-enter your password every half-hour. The concern some folks have is that the 30-minute password-free window is too long. It only takes a kid (or someone else) just a few seconds to start making purchases after you've used your password.

Confirming your password ...

Password confirmation

It's worth noting that if you have to enter your password again later when purchasing an app, there's another reminder (hidden behind a sort of "more info" question mark) about securing your Google Play account in the Store app.

Changing the password confirmation window

And, finally, there's the option to change this whole password confirmation thing. You only have three options: A 30-minute grace period, no grace period (meaning you have to enter your password for every purchase), or you can just turn off the password requirement altogether, which we don't recommend.

You can get to this option from any of the reminder links, or by going into the Google Play Store app settings by sliding the drawer menu out from the left.

For even more information ...

If you still have questions about all this, we recommend Google's "Why am I being asked for my password on Google Play?" support page.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

Phil Nickinson
  • Thanks for this good tip
  • Instead of worrying about your kids buying games using your smartphone, just buy a $15 gift card and add it to your account. Believe me you will sleep better.
  • Yeah. That's how I'm gonna set my kids up when they get their own devices, I think.
  • Yeah that is what we did until he got a job with my youngest. 20$ every 6 months Posted via Android Central App
  • Sign them up for Google survey's for free Play credits too. I've made about $40 in 9 months of surveys.
  • +1000 Posted via my Droid RAZR Maxx HD using the Android Central App
  • Set password restrictions or better yet just don't have kids... :P
  • When my almost 6 year old asks for my phone, I say no. That is a very easy way to avoid charges.
  • But what happens when they turn 7? Posted from the Avengers: Age of Droid Ultra
  • Or 8 Posted via Android Central App
  • or 6 Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)
  • Google ought to add back the option to use a PIN instead of a password. I shouldn't have to enter my complicated password to make purchases on a trusted device. The goal is to prevent casual misuse from someone to whom you've granted physical access to the device. Requiring a password encourages users to dumb down their passwords (making it easier to attack) or to turn off purchase validation entirely (which leads to the problem with kids or anyone else who has temporary access to the device). I'm surprised the article doesn't mention adding a separate (restricted) user account, which can be used to restrict access to the Google Play Store or to other specified applications. (But I still want a PIN system too, however.)
  • Just don't hand your kids an electronic device to keep them occupied. You are the parent, the tablet/phone is not. You are responsible for what the kids do. Hand them a Nabi, that's what they're made for. Besides, this is why kids grow up to be hooked to screens 24/7 and then those same parents will complain. Boom! From My S5
  • Wow, one of the smartest comments I've read here or anywhere else for that matter! I have a son who's, almost 5 and a half and a daughters who is too almost 3 and a half, unfortunately they both are hooked on their Nabi Dreamtabs, but in my husbands and my defense, the only apps their tablet has, is the ABC Mouse app and the apps that came along with the tablet when we bought them. My son is very smart when it comes to his tablet or anything else, he knows how to get on Google Play and download apps by himself. You're 100 percent right when you say we are the parents and not the tablet and we need to make the restrictions for them, it's not like their going to give the tablet up on their own, that'll never happen. The Google Play Store should have a area when registering that can be checked that can totally block children, especially small ones.
  • Unfortunately, this won't help those of us who use the BlueStacks android emulator on our kids' Windows touch PCs, since it uses Honeycomb / old play store with no password lock.
  • The latest versions of BlueStacks are using ICS. What is the minimum Android version needed for this?
  • Or you can use last pass for your galaxy s5 and just use your finger print to make purchases. Posted via Android Central App
  • Passwords are essential to digital media as oxygen is essential to life. Fait Accompli
  • bring back the PIN!