Kids buy apps and raid parents’ accounts

Apple, iPadChildren are costing their parents cash, running up bills on apps and in-app purchases on their tablets and smartphones.

According to research conducted by Microsoft, parents have spent on average an extra £341 on their bills, unaware of their kids’ app spending, totalling over £30 million for parents across the nation.

Over a quarter of the 2000 parents asked admitted to falling foul of their kids making unauthorised app and in-app purchases, with 83 percent of these parents suffering from an increased monthly bill as a result.

Just over one in ten parents said that they were concerned they were unable to pay the extra cost, while  a third have resorted to hiding their smartphone and tablet from their kids.

Nonetheless, 17 percent of UK parents still share their smartphone and tablet passwords with their children, with 23.5 percent of parents not having a security password at all.

Eight year olds are running up the largest app costs, having added on average an extra £59.59 to their parents’ smartphone or tablet bill.  And, demonstrating the widespread issue of ‘accidental’ buys by very young children, well over a third of kids aged four and under have made app and in-app purchases without permission.

The research reveals that fun-loving kids are spending on average three hours and 21 minutes a week playing smartphone games and apps. Surprisingly, one in ten parents give their children free rein to access whatever content they want and over half link their smartphone or tablet to a subscription service or direct debit account that can be easily accessed.

As well as the financial implications of the unsupervised use of a parent’s smartphone or tablet, there is also the risk of social media pranks. Over a quarter of kids have sneakily updated a parent’s Facebook status, and one in five updated their Twitter status.

Potentially causing a career limiting move, one in ten kids have also hijacked a parent’s Facebook profile to comment on or insult their boss.

Microsoft said its Windows Phone 8 handsets could help parents reduce the likelihood of suffering ‘bill shock’, providing a Kid’s Corner feature which prohibits in-app purchases and only lets kids roam around in the specific area.