How much would you pay for a smurfberry? Don’t know what that is? Well be careful because even if you don’t, you child might well know and appreciate the value of a smurfberry. And pay for it using the convenient in-app purchase function on your iPhone or iPad. Well okay, I’m not stirring up any conspiracy theories here; the Smurfs’ Village debacle occurred a couple of months ago but we can safely put it behind us. What we should keep in mind, though, is the fact that the iPhone and iPad are increasingly popular toys that parents entertain their kids with. And while the tap-tap-simple app purchase is excellent for–well, for simply purchasing apps– this also means that it’s easier for your kids to figure out how to buy apps, or make in-app purchases without your knowledge. And while most songs or apps cost about $0.99 or $1.99, they can still add up to quite a lot over a month. (Because it’s likely you won’t know until the credit card bill comes in at month-end!)

So this article that Wendy came across last week had some handy tips of how to ‘guard’ your phone against unexpected purchases–

“1. Set up an iTunes gift on your account and give your children a monthly allowance. Once you’re logged into iTunes on your computer, you’ll find the “Buy iTunes Gift” link under “Quick Links.” This allows you to set a monthly spending amount. Allowances begin at $10, with increments of $10 up to $50. Any unused monthly balance carries over to the following month, which means your children can ‘save’ for larger purchases.

2. Change your password. Creating a strong password that your children can’t guess will prevent them from logging into your account.

3. Enable restrictions on the device. This option is found by navigating to Settings –> General –> Restrictions. You’ll need to enter a four-digit code (I recommend you make it something less obvious than a birthday or house number). Once you’ve set up the code, you can disable your children from accessing the App Store or iTunes Store by sliding those switches to the Off position. Although the App Store is disabled, purchases can still be made within apps that are already installed. To disable this, scroll down to the “Allowed Content” and turn the “In-App Purchases” switch to the Off position. ”

So there you have it, three handy hints on how to avoid end-of-month shocks! See you tomorrow, folks, sleep tight (and keep an eye on your i-devices). 🙂