Digital dilemma: Kids spend money on downloads against parents’ wishes

21 September 2015

  • Half of parents say they do not allow their children to spend money on digital downloads
  •  84% of kids admit to downloading games, apps, TV shows, music and films
  • Three out of four children aged 8-15 have a mobile phone, 86% of which are smart phones

Half (50%) of parents say they do not allow their children to spend money on digital downloads, despite 84% of kids admitting to doing so, according to the latest research from Halifax.

This year’s annual Halifax pocket money survey shows just how concerned parents are when it comes to their children’s access to downloadable online content, with one in three (32%) saying they are unwilling to allow their children to download items because they are worried about them accessing inappropriate content and a further third (31%) saying this is because they are worried about them overspending. Additionally, a third (31%) admit to downloading content on behalf of their children to stop them from doing so themselves.  

For those parents who do allow children to download games, films, TV programmes or apps, almost two thirds (62%) set a limit on how much they will let their kids to spend, allowing their child(ren) to spend between £4-£10 per week, on average.

Most children have direct access to the internet and the ability to download content online, whether or not they have their parents’ permission to do so. Three in five (60%) has a tablet computer and three quarters (72%) has a mobile phone, 86% of which are smart phones. The average phone bill is £12.50, with one in 10 (12%) children saying that they are expected to pay for this with their pocket money.

While the age of the child seems to have quite a bearing on whether or not they have a mobile phone, with only 16% of eight years olds having one compared to 96% of 15 year olds, it makes little difference when it comes to whether or not they download certain types of content online. In fact, more eight year olds download games than 15 year olds (62% versus 56%).

On average, children admit to downloading three items per week. Games are the most popular item to download, with three fifths (60%) of children saying they download these items, followed by apps (58%), music (50%), TV programmes (19%) and then films (20%).

Giles Martin, Head of Halifax Savings said: “It is clear that while today’s kids are super savvy when it comes to all things digital, parents still have concerns about their spending online. This is perhaps no surprise, when considering the multitude of shops and downloads available at the touch of a button.

“Budgeting money is a great responsibility and parents need to make sure that by awarding pocket money they are also giving their children the tools to understand the importance of managing how that is spent. Our research shows that the majority of children save at least some of their pocket money, but it is also clear from the latest figures, that many are also spending online. What is not clear, is whether the bank of Mum and Dad is footing the bill.”