Eight-year-olds are the worst, right? At running up phone bills, that is! New figures suggest children aged eight are the worst offenders among kids making purchases in apps without parents' permission.
Microsoft asked 2,000 parents with smart phones and tablets about surprise phone bills, and found over a quarter of those surveyed have been stung by unexpected charges after nippers made purchases through apps.
An average of £34 was unexpectedly added to bills by children splashing out on in-app purchases such as extra content or bonuses in games, which would add up to £30m for British parents in unwanted charges. The worst age group is the terrible eights, who added an average of £59 to bills for those surveyed.
As in-app purchases are investigated by the Office of Fair Trading, the new survey also reveals more than 40 per cent of parents don't realise that they can be charged by apps or games.
Protect your PIN
We should of course point out that the research was carried out by Microsoft, which has a vested interest in highlighting the growing problem of rugrats spending on apps. Microsoft's Windows Phone software for mobile phones includes a feature called Kid's Corner, a virtual soft play area where kids are safely partitioned away from adult content, apps that make purchases, and your important data. They can only access videos, songs and apps that you add to your phone's Kid's Corner, and can only make in-app purchases with a special PIN.
Other phones and tablets also use a PIN or password to protect in-app purchases, but cunning ankle biters are getting round that by conning parents into revealing the code, using the nefarious trick of asking what it is. The sneaky little beggars!
If you do let your children use your phone or tablet, be careful letting them know the password. For example, once you've entered your password, the Apple iTunes Store doesn't require you to type it again for 15 minutes, potentially allowing children to download more songs, films or in-app purchases in that time. If you let your kids use your iPad or iPhone, you can change that so a password is required every time.
Recent cases of bill shock include a policeman who reported his own son to fraud investigators over a £3,700 iPad game bill.
Have you ever been ripped off by an app? Are your kids addicted to your phone or tablet? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page. And look out for those sneaky eight-year-olds...