According to a report in the UK newspaper The Guardian – citing data from a recent Microsoft survey – as much as £30.9 million in purchases a month are made by children without their parents' consent. That is according to 28 percent of 2,000 parents surveyed in the region. Of this 28 percent, 83 percent of those parents say that they suffer from bill shock when they see the charges on their monthly credit card bills. Those extra charges are on average about £34.18.
Microsoft's numbers based on the survey put the average monthly total of "unauthorized" in-app purchases by children at around £30.9 million, according to the Guardian report. The survey also found that 17 percent of parents share their smartphone or tablet passwords with their children, while 23.5 percent do not use passwords at all. That last bit is pretty surprising. Finally, 77 percent of respondents think that technology companies need to do more to help parents manage their children's activities like providing additional parental control measures.
This survey data adds fuel to the fire that has led to an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). In early April the regulatory agency announced that it would investigate the way game developers, publishers, and app makers market in-app purchases to children. That investigation is ongoing.