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Buying a smartphone or a tablet for your child this Christmas?

21 December 2015, David Owen, Senior Communications Executive
Things to consider with smartphones and tablets this Christmas

If your child has a smartphone or tablet, or if you are buying one this Christmas, make sure they know about treating the devices like a wallet. Talk to your child about what they use the device for. Having these conversations now could help you avoid an unexpected bill later on. 

Over half of 3 to 4 year-olds and three quarters of 12 to 15 year-olds use a tablet* and gaming in-app purchases, donating to charity or voting for your favourite contestant in TV shows can be done quickly and efficiently through operator billing. Such purchases can be charged to your phone bill or pay-as-you-go credit.

Our top tips if your child is using a smartphone or a tablet
  • Before downloading an app, check the permissions for in-app purchases.
  • Although an app is free for download, it may incur charges later or for upgrading to the next level or for ad-free versions. Explain that clicking on these things is like spending real money, even if the app is free.
  • Explain to your child that even when playing free games on a mobile device, buying extra lives, coins or moving to the next may cost real money.
  • Be aware of where you click – clicking on ‘buy’ buttons can lead to spending real money.
  • Be aware when entering phone numbers online – quizzes, competitions and prize draws online may cost money for taking part.
  • Put parental controls in place – these are an additional device-level or network-level protections. More information on setting these up can be found on Internet Matters’ Parental Controls page.
  • Check your phone bill regularly – if you are unsure of any charges speak to your network provider.
What can you do?

You can access further advice and information for parents and young people on our PhoneBrain website which features an interactive quiz for kids and the story of Tommy Tap-Tap.

Remember: if you have a question regarding a premium rate service, use our Number Checker to provide details of the service provider to contact.

*Taken from Ofcom’s Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes report

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