Bills you didn’t bank on

Bills you didn’t bank on

“My 8 year-old daughter ran up a bill of £4000” said a father from Bristol after allowing his daughter to use his tablet so that she could play numerous games such as My Horse, My little Pony, Hay Day, Zombies vs Ninja and Smurf’s village. The amount may seem extreme, yet many parents can relate to receiving a credit-card bill that includes unwanted and useless purchases that their children have, often unwittingly, made. In-App purchases themselves are not a bad thing, as long as they’re used responsibly and under the full control of parents.

What are in-app purchases?

Some games, usually initially free to install, have the option to purchase additional content such as game levels, game accessories, maps, experience points, subscriptions and additional stories. These extras are referred to as In-app purchases (IAPs).

 How can I prevent unwanted in-app purchases?

Try it yourself: When you are downloading a free game, first try to understand how in-app purchasing is used, and whether you are comfortable with it.

Set a password: Android and IOS devices encourage you to enter a password prior to making any purchases on your device. Never tick the ‘Remember Me’ button, as this will override the need to enter a password before buying an app.

Set a budget: Talk to your children about in-app purchases, and encourage them to take a responsible attitude towards them. This can also be done in the form an an iTunes or Google Play gift card.

Fortunately, you can restrict In-App Purchases on Apple devices and on Android devices. Restrictions stop you from sing specific features and applications, automatically block access to adult websites or only allow access to a specific set of permitted websites.

What can I do if this happens to me or to someone you know?

You can report the problem and request a refund for the unwanted apps from this link for Apple devices or for Android devices

 Where can I get more information about IAPs?

You will find the following links useful

Apple devices: Restrict In-App Purchases by Turning on Restrictions on your iOS device or

Android Devices:

Windows phone:



Veronica Montanaro is a Speech and Language Pathologist who practices as a Clinical Specialist in Alternative and Augmentative Communication. Ms Montanaro specialised in Language and Communication Impairment in Children at the University of Sheffield. She also addresses seminars for parents and children who benefit from Alternative and Augmentative Communication, carries out training for professionals interested in the area and offers consultancy in language development in young children. She is also a visiting assisting lecturer at the University of Malta.  



  1. Omg, how could the kid possibly get the bill to that high?

    • Unfortunately it is a reality. I’ve heard many stories of children running up bills for their parents/grandparents. There are ways of receiving refunds if done quickly-but prevention is always best. A simple restriction from settings will ensure that each add-on that is requested requires an adult to enter a password.


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