You’re probably here because you witnessed the horror of your Google Play Store balance being drained because your child somehow bought and installed a ton of different apps. It happens to the best of parents and it’s best to use the experience as a learning tool. Like a gate of steps, child proofing your Android device is just as important.

What You Will Need…

  • The Android device in question.
  • A safe and secure network connection, preferably a network connection that isn’t a public network connection.

Locking your Android Device

Every Android device, or any smart device for that matter, comes with a password system. It can be a PIN, a password or a pattern. Of course, it can be removed, but for child proofing purposes, this is an absolute must. Grab a writing utensil and paper so you can file away the correct password, PIN or pattern, just in case you forget it.

1. Launch the ‘Settings’ app. It’s a GEAR icon. You can usually find it on one of your Home screens or, if not, find it in your App Drawer where all your currently installed apps take refuge.

2. Scroll down the menu and locate ‘Security.’ Tap it.

3. Locate and select ‘Screen lock’ or ‘Lock screen.’ It varies between Android manufacturers.

4. You have a number of options to choose from:

  • Long press: You hold your finger on the screen to unlock it.
  • Pattern: Connecting a series of dots in a specific pattern to unlock.
  • PIN: Create a 4-digit PIN.
  • Password: That speaks for itself.

5. Choose the type of screen lock you want and write down the PIN, password or pattern in case you forget it.

Adding a Password for Purchases

1. Launch the ‘Google Play Store’ app. Its icon is a colorful triangle. You can usually find it on one of your Home screens or, if not, find it in your App Drawer where all your currently installed apps take refuge.

2. At the top left corner of the screen, there’s three horizontal lines. Tapping it will open your menu by revealing a left hand panel.

click settings

3. In the menu, scroll down and find ‘Settings.’ Select it.

Require authentication for purchases

4. Keep scrolling down to ‘User controls.’ Underneath User Controls you’ll notice a couple of options. Choose ‘Require authentication for purchases.’ It will prompt a window.

choose an option to protect your device

5. You have several options to choose from: ‘For all purchases through Google Play on this device’ or ‘Every 30 minutes’ or ‘Never.’

  • For all purchases through Google Play on this device: The most restrictive. When someone attempts to download from the Google Play Store, they’ll have to make it through an authentication process.
  • Every 30 minutes: Like the most restrictive option, except the authentication process will have to be dealt with every 30 minutes. More or less a timed restriction.
  • Never: The Google Play Store will never ask for authentication. Not recommended for children.

As an added benefit, if your children try to change this setting, they’ll give blocked by the Google Play Store. In order to bypass the block, and change the setting, they need to know your Google account password.

Using Parental Controls

Using the Google Play Store parental controls can be a godsend when you have a child that likes to snoop for other games to play. However, these settings are more for censorship, rather than outright disabling certain features. At any rate, here’s how you enable parental controls:

1. Launch the ‘Google Play Store’ app.

2. At the top left corner of the screen, there’s three horizontal lines. Tapping it will open your menu by revealing a left hand panel.

3. In the menu, scroll down and find ‘Settings.’ Select it.

parental controls

4. Keep scrolling down to ‘User controls.’ Underneath User Controls you’ll notice a couple of options. Choose ‘Parental controls.’ It will prompt a window.

Parental controls are off

5. At the top, where it says ‘Parental controls are off,’ there’s a slider located to the right. Tap and move the slider to the right to turn parental controls on. It will turn blue.

enter a pin

6. When prompted, choose a PIN that controls parental controls. Be sure to remember this or write it down.

7. Confirm the PIN by punching it in again.

decide the category for censorship

8. With parental controls on, you can decide for each category the level of censorship Google Play Store will filter in its search results. For example, in ‘Apps & games,’ you can choose the ERSB rating for apps and games.

If you set it to ‘Teen,’ for example, anything your child searches on the Google Play Store will only show results of apps and games that are rated ‘Teen’ and below. The level of censorship is up to you to decide.

9. Select ‘Save’ when you’re satisfied.

To be clear, your child can’t change the parental control settings unless they know the PIN. The Google Play Store will bar them from making any changes without it.