New study says parents have greater control over in-game spending 'than reports would have us believe'

Just 2% of children pay for IAPs without parental permission, research claims

Only two per cent of children have spent their parents’ money on in-app purchases in mobile games without express permission, new research claims.

Youth research agency Dubit, which conducted the report, said its research was in response to the Office of Fair Trading’s investigation into the use of in-app purchases, after the organisation expressed concerns over the ‘aggressive’ nature of such practices.

The survey of 500 children into the potential dangers of IAPs found that only 17 per cent of kids were allowed by their parents to spend money in-game.

Of those allowed to buy, 41 per cent knew their parents’ app store account details.

The report also claimed that of those surveyed, none of them had ever spent more than £10 on a single purchase, and rarely spend more than £2 at a time.

The research did not cover how many of these small purchases were made however.

According to the children surveyed, 87 per cent said they had always asked their parents before making a purchase.

The most popular in-app purchases were often new levels and cosmetic items such as virtual clothing or furniture. A quarter of players spent money speeding up their progress.

"It’s evident from our research that parents have greater control over their child’s in-game spending than reports would have us believe, and when children do spend, it is in moderation," said Dubit CEO Ian Douthwaite.

“Gaming has changed a lot over the past few years with price points dropping, and with children having greater access and choice. Rather than IAP being the villain, it appears that it provides a valuable revenue stream for games publishers without exploiting a child’s or a parent’s vulnerability."

The OFT recently proposed new guidelines to police the aggressive use of in-game purchases against children, and said it was looking to crack down on IAPS it considers misleading.

The report laid out eight principles to tackle what it deemed as unfair practices, asking developers to provide clear information on the costs associated with a game, and that developers should not mislead consumers when spending money.

You can find the details of that report here.

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