As money increasingly becomes just numbers on a screen, it can be difficult for children to understand its value and importance, as new research today reveals how two in five parents (43%) are concerned about their children spending money online in games and apps.
We launched the new online money management hub to help parents address the issue of children’s online money management as they grow up in an increasingly cashless society.
We found that more than 2,000 UK parents showed the potential risks around spending money in games and apps is now the second biggest online issue that parents say their child has direct experience of (16%). And while it found 43% are worried about their child spending money online, almost one in four (38%) are concerned with their children gambling on websites or in games/apps.
Although experience of spending money online increases as they get older, the data reveals that as many as one in eight (12%) four to five-year-olds have spent money online.
Despite parents’ concerns, only 18% said they had talked to their kids about the risks of spending money online.
The new hub will offer new resources to give parents the knowledge and confidence to speak to their children about online money management.
The new guides, released today, include advice on in-game spending and new trends such as gifting gaming influencers and buying loot boxes – which are like virtual treasure chests that gamers can purchase without knowing the contents before they buy.
The guides include tips for parents on how to control what kids buy online, using parental controls and device settings to set spending limits or restrict in-app purchases, so they don’t unwittingly spend money online.
Child psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos, said: “While children may know their way round the latest online video game, many are in over their heads when it comes to understanding the value of money, which is why we see so many headlines about kids accidentally racking up thousands of pounds online.
Just like it’s natural for us to advise children how to spend their pocket money in the offline world, we need to help them in the online world. It’s important for us to have conversations with them about the risks of spending money online and how they might be susceptible to fraud, scams or other financial harms.
Also talk to your child about peer pressure they might feel. We know from recent reports that kids have spent hundreds of pounds on items such as loot boxes where they are unsure of the rewards just to keep up with their friends.”
Carolyn Bunting, Chief Executive of Internet Matters, said: “From our research it’s clear that spending money online is now a part of children’s digital life from a young age
It’s worrying to see that while parents are concerned about their children spending money online, many aren’t having regular conversations with their child about it.
As parents, we should encourage our children to think critically about the money they spend online and familiarise ourselves with the games and the apps that our children are using – most will have controls and settings which will prevent any unauthorised spending.
The new hub offers a host of resources for parents so they can empower their children to make the right choices about how they spend their money online and consider the real value in what they are buying.”
Visit www.internetmatters.org/resources/online-money-management-guide for more information on how to help children manage money online.
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