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More than half of UK children have used PayPal or Apple Pay to buy online without parent permission

If you’ve ever been left confused by a mysterious transaction on your bank statement, a new report suggests it could well be evidence of your child’s unauthorised spending spree. 

Cybersecurity firm Panda Security found hundreds of British kids are using their parents’ Apple Pay and PayPal accounts, as well as debit cards, without permission to buy apps, movies and games. 

In all, 52 per cent of parents admitted they had been bemused by payments on their bank balance, only to later find out it was their child who had made the purchase.  

Meanwhile, 21 per cent rang their bank due to ‘suspicious activity’ on their account, which turned out to be their kids helping themselves to funds.

Confused about mystery transactions on your bank statement? it could well be your kids according to new research at Panda Security (stock image)

KEY FINDINGS  

– 52 per cent of UK parents claim they have found payments on their bank balance made by their child

– 21 per cent rang their bank due to ‘suspicious activity’ on their account that was actually payments made by their child

– 17 per cent thought they were the victim of fraud   

– 32 per cent found their children downloading apps they later claimed they thought were free

– 24 per cent found themselves locked out of their own device due to their child attempting to enter their passcode too many times

– 37 per cent said their children constantly take their phone, laptop or tablet without asking 

According to the data, unauthorised spends average a total of £300 a year (£25 a month on average) on everything from games, apps, movies and more. 

Children are especially partial to addictive gaming add-ons known as ‘loot boxes’ – virtual treasure chests in video games that give players prizes. 

The study also found that 16 per cent had got a virus on their laptop or desktop, because their child had inadvertently downloaded it. 

Panda Security is now urging parents to keep their online payment accounts secure from their kids if they feel they need to. 

‘It’s great to see that children are becoming more fluent and comfortable with technology,’ said Hervé Lambert at Panda Security, which offers its own internet and security products for families. 

‘[But] it’s important that parents implement the correct procedures to avoid unwanted spending becoming a problem at home.’ 

For the research, Panda Security surveyed 1,500 UK-based mums and dads online, who were asked a series of yes or no questions based on their experiences. 

Data showed 23 per cent were left so baffled by a transaction on their account that they assumed it must be a mistake, while 17 per cent even thought they were the victim of fraud.   

Due to the issue, 16 per cent of mums and dads had ended up with unexpected deliveries to their home, with just 28 per cent able to cancel the order. 

Children are especially partial to addictive gaming add-ons known as 'loot boxes' – virtual treasure chests in video games that give players prizes. Pictured is a loot box in the popular shooter Overwatch

Children are especially partial to addictive gaming add-ons known as ‘loot boxes’ – virtual treasure chests in video games that give players prizes. Pictured is a loot box in the popular shooter Overwatch

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of parents said they thought their children knew exactly what they were doing when they made an online purchase without permission.  

Meanwhile, 46 per cent said their card details end up getting saved to multiple websites, making it easy for their children to incur costs, while 35 per cent admitted their child could easily enter their card details to complete a purchase online. 

Over a third (34 per cent) said a child had been able to make purchases using in-app game add-ons, such as loot boxes, and 32 per cent found their children downloading priced apps that they later claimed they thought were free. 

Unfortunately for the parent, 24 per cent found themselves locked out of their own device due to their child attempting to enter their passcode too many times. 

A love of games and apps is driving British kids to make unauthorised purchases with their parents' payment cars, the findings suggest (stock image)

A love of games and apps is driving British kids to make unauthorised purchases with their parents’ payment cars, the findings suggest (stock image)

What’s more, 37 per cent said their children constantly take their phone, laptop or tablet without asking and 20 per cent said their child uses their devices as if they were their own. 

31 per cent of parents said they’d been forced to change their password or pin to keep the issue from happening again.  

To avoid any future transactions made by their child, 19 per cent decided to ground their children. A strict 18 per cent forced their child to pay them back, while 12 per cent froze their child’s pocket money.

Interestingly, parents intentionally giving their child their payment details was not unheard of – 30 per cent admitted they often give their children their debit card to buy something online and to keep them occupied.  

The research also found that Manchester is the spending spree capital of the UK for children, where they splash out up to £33 monthly on online purchases. 

Manchester was closely followed by children in London (£32) and Plymouth (£29).    

ONE IN SIX KIDS STEAL MONEY FROM THEIR PARENTS TO PAY FOR ‘LOOT BOXES’, SURVEY FINDS

Around one in six children steal money from their parents to pay for video game loot boxes – in-game ‘treasure chests’ that award players random virtual prizes. 

In a survey of British teen and young adult gamers, Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) found 15 per cent had taken money from parents without permission to buy loot boxes. 

Overall, 11 per cent had used their parents’ credit or debit cards to fund their loot box purchases, while 9 per cent had borrowed money they couldn’t repay for the addictive in-game feature.

Three young gamers’ loot box buying habits resulted in their families having to re-mortgage their homes to cover the costs, according to the study.   

In the UK, the House of Lords Gambling Committee has called for loot boxes to be brought under the Gambling Act, which would make them illegal for under-18s to buy. 

As of September 2021, the government is still looking at regulating video game ‘loot boxes’ blamed for encouraging gambling among children. 

Read more: One in six children steal money to pay for video game loot boxes 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk