Is It Still Too Easy For Kids To Run Up Big Bills Through Digital Apps/Games?

April 28, 2014 Published by

On April 26th 2014, Radio 4’s You and Yours discussed whether it is still too easy for kids to run up big bills through digital apps and games, particularly with reference to games consoles, such as the xbox, which have not really featured in the in-app purchase scandal as of yet.

The experience of the father and son suggests that for some games it is still unclear to children and parents as to when they will incur costs.  The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have recently introduced a set of 8 principles designed to encourage companies to act more responsibly and avoid these problems.  These principles require all online and app-based games to be upfront about charges involved and any messages related to paid-for content to be clearly distinguishable from game-play.

How can parents avoid falling victim to big bills?

Here are a few simple precautions that can be taken to avoid unexpected bills.

• Talk to your children about the importance of being careful about accidentally making purchases.  Explain how it can sometimes be very unclear whether an ‘extra’ or new feature is free or paid-for and encourage them to always ask if they are not sure.

• Check parental control settings on any devices (games consoles, computers, broadband connections, smart phones and tablets) your child uses to limit the possibility of unintended purchases.

• Never give your child your password required to authorise payment.

• Check the details of any service or website you use that automatically logs you in and stores your card details or other automatic payment method (including app stores, online stores, games consoles).  Verify that a password is always required to complete a purchase (e.g. by turning off 1-click purchasing) – if it isn’t remove your card details and turn off ‘remember me’ options.  Logging in each time may be a nuisance but it’s better than a huge and unexpected bill!

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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