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Advice for young people and parents

A conversation with your child now could save you from a shock the next time you open your phone bill. What to look out for:

For children under the age of 7:

Although some games and apps are free for download, they may offer your child in-app purchases for acquiring game enhancements or to move to the next level. Here is a children’s story about a boy called Tommy Tip-Tap that explains the issues.

For young people aged over 7:

Some games and apps are free to start with, but later on they might offer your child in-app purchases - charges to buy virtual items or upgrade to the next level – that your child may accept without realising that they are spending real money. 

Competitions and quizzes, whether online or in print, might ask for a call or text to a phone-paid service number to enter and win a prize. Charity donations or voting through call or text for your TV show contestants is often charged through your mobile phone bill or Pay As You Go credit.

Our advice

  • To prevent ‘bill shock’, when installing apps make sure you read the permissions for in-app purchases and the reviews others have written about the app. Also, it's always best to download apps from the main app stores.

  • No matter how good a prize looks, always read the small print to know exactly the charges involved before entering a competition, a quiz, making a donation or voting in TV contests.

  • If you let your child use your mobile device take care that they don’t open other apps by mistake and spend real money.

Other resources

We’ve created PhoneBrain, a website for children explaining how phone-paid services work, top tips to avoid ‘bill shock’ and other advice for young people and parents.

Up for a challenge? Take PhoneBrain's interactive quiz to see if you are smarter than your smartphone.

Get Safe Online, a public / private sector partnership supported by HM Government, have a very useful piece of advice on online gaming to keep a child's online gaming safe.

Internet Advertising Bureau UK created a funny video to help kids and parents to get smart about the ads they see online, enjoy!