If the kids are getting Android phones, Android tablets or Chromebooks for Christmas, or if they've got them already, Google has introduced a new way to ensure that they can't cause a festive financial meltdown. It's now easier to ensure that family members can't just buy what they want from the Play Store without getting your approval first.
Purchase approval is already available when you have a shared family payment method, but Google has now improved the feature so it applies to purchases when there's a different payment method. The new Purchase Request feature works on iOS, Android and Chrome.
How to prevent the kids running up huge Play Store bills
The official Google blog explains (opens in new tab) how it works. "If you’re the family manager in the family group, you can choose purchase approval settings for any member of your family," Google says. "If you're a parent in the family group, you can choose the purchase approval settings for family members whose accounts are managed with Family Link."
It's important to note what this feature doesn't do. It doesn't apply to Play Books, Google TV shows or subscriptions, it doesn't apply if you've already got a shared family payment method, and it only applies to Google Play purchases: purchases from other sources are beyond its scope. But it does cover payment methods such as Google Play Store gift cards, it enables you veto free apps and games too, and it's a useful way of ensuring that the kids don't go on the electronic equivalent of a trolley dash on their shiny new Android or Chromebook device.
I think it's well worth having if you have younger children with Google Play-capable devices: they're not as cynical as we are, and purchase approval can help ensure they don't fill their devices with low quality apps.