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Children using premium rate services and how to avoid bill shock

08 October 2014, Cătălina Ciontu, Senior Communications Executive
Deloitte Future of phone paid digital goods and services

This week we’ve worked with Childnet on a short piece on what to be mindful of when children use premium rate services on mobile devices.

Premium rate services offer a wide range of valuable content in very convenient ways which makes it very attractive for people of all ages.

But when children are concerned it is important to make sure that both the child and the parent know all the facts to help them avoid bill shock.

Things parents can do to help stop their children from getting into trouble when browsing the internet, playing games or using social media include:

  • Set a password for in-app billing. Some social media or mobile games offer children the option of ‘buying your way’ to the next level.
  • Consider blocking access to websites with inappropriate content or high risk of malware
  • Read the guide on using apps safely and securely that we produced with Ofcom.

Education and trust play a very important role as well. Before handing out a tablet or a smartphone, parents should talk to their children about:

  • How ads work and paying attention to what they tap or click on. Sometimes they subscribe to services without realising it as mobile devices have a dynamic use and a child’s attention can be short spanned. Also children can sometimes misunderstand online promos.
  • Not providing sensitive information, such as phone number or payment details, unless they know exactly how they will be used.
  • Always checking with the bill payer before calling or texting premium rate numbers.
  • Looking at the small print and the prices on social media promotions such as ads, apps and games even if they are endorsed by their Facebook friends.

We have created www.Phonebrain.org.uk, a website for parents and children packed with top tips, fun quizzes and videos that will help you understand all there is to understand about texts, games, apps, calls, liking, sharing, downloads and how much they can cost.

If you need more information, visit our website www.phonepayplus.org.uk or call our consumer helpline on 0300 30 300 20.

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