12% of kids accidentally caught out by in-app purchases

14 July 2015
Some 12% of secondary school-age children have accidentally spent money on 'in-app' purchases. A further 7% of 11 to 18-year-olds have received a big phone bill due to accidental in-app purchases. The findings come from a survey by charity Childnet for PhonepayPlus, which said that the young people it spoke to gave several reasons for being caught out by unexpected costs. Real moneyThese included not understanding that in-app purchases were 'real money'; accidentally clicking on the purchase; and not realising the payment would go through automatically with stored passwords. One 14-year-old boy explained: "I just wanted to get this character on a game and I didn't realise that it cost money." Another boy said: "I clicked on it to get one and it was taking forever so I kept clicking on it and ended up spending over £100." One girl aged between 11 and 14 told the researches she didn't realise the App Store took money straight out of her parents' bank account." And a slightly older girl said: "Clicked what I thought was to go to next level but it was to buy more lives." Downloading apps has become so common that 95% of 11 to 18-year-olds admit to doing so. Some 59% had paid for an app and 37% had spent money on an in-app purchase. ComplacentEdward Timpson, the government's children and families minister, said: "The internet is a tremendously powerful tool that is changing the way our children learn and stay in touch but we cannot afford to be complacent about the risks – the dangers of the virtual world are no less pressing than those in the real world. "But it isn't just a problem for parents, schools have a role to play too which is why we have put online safety at the heart of the curriculum to ensure children are given the information and tools they need to protect themselves online."

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