Microsoft reveals survey data for in-app purchases

British kids rack up £30.9m a month on average

Microsoft has released the results of a survey of British parents looking into children's in-app purchases on smartphones and tablets

In-app purchases have been making the news over the last couple of months as enterprising kiddies have used their parents accounts to build up substantial online bills for virtual goods.

Now, in order to promote the parental controls of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has carried out a survey asking parents about their familiy's app-buying habits.

Out of 2,000 adults surveyed, 28 per cent said that their little ones had made in-app purchases without their knowledge. And 83 per cent of those admitted to "bill shock" once the numbers came in at the end of the month.

These parents were asked to estimate how much extra the purchases added to their monthly bill and the average claim came in at £34.18. Microsoft had therefore run the numbers and arrived at the figure of just under £30.9m spent on unauthorised app purchases in Britain over a month.

The figures don't stop there either. Other results from the survey indicate that 17 per cent of parents share their password with their children, while 23.5 per cent don't even bother to add a password to their app account.

Unsurprisngly, a huge 77 per cent of respondents said that parents need more help from technology companies to manage app-hungry kids spending all their hard-earned cash.

"With technology becoming more and more intuitive, it's important that parents can trust in the technology they use and feel as safe as possible when handing over their smartphone and tablet devices to their children," said Brett Siddons, head of consumer marketing for Windows Phone UK.

Behind it all, Microsoft is pushing features like Kid's Corner and Family Safety - both present in Windows Phone 8 and useful for restricting access for children.

Kid's Corner features a separate Start screen with parent-approved apps, videos, games and music. It's a feature that will be available on all Windows Phone 8 handsets in the future. The Family Safety tool works in much the same way and can be set to filter out inappropriate websites. It'll also monitor performance, letting you see exactly what your kids get up to when you hand them your device.

The figures make for interesting reading, but we feel that several overblown media stories have helped raise awareness of this problem, so the number of parents getting hit with high virtual bills should start to decrease.

Nevertheless, Microsoft is making good progress with these features and it might behoove Apple and Google to begin making their own arrangements to safeguard younger users.

What are your thoughts? Should tech companies be responsible for mistaken in-app purchases or should parents simply not give their kids gadgets to play with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Guardian