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Your Money: Smartphones in little hands lead to big bills

Many children with unlimited access to apps aren’t aware of the potential costs (Getty Images)
Many children with unlimited access to apps aren’t aware of the potential costs (Getty Images)

HOW can you rein in the cost when your children reach for their mobile?

Two-thirds of kids aged 8-15 now have their own smartphone, according to a Halifax pocket money survey. And two-fifths claim they can download as many apps as they like.

But it’s mums and dads who have to stump up.

More than four-fifths of parents say they pay for their child’s phone rather than take slices out of their pocket money.

The problems arrive when children download costly content.

Citizens Advice has had to step in to help parents hit with three-figure bills.

Thankfully, there are some precautions you can take to avoid financial pain.

For starters, deciding on the right device can help avoid huge bills.

Regulator Ofcom suggests considering what your child will use the device for before buying.

All you’ll ever need to know about mobile phones

If it’s simply to make calls, send a few texts and enable them to make contact in an emergency, a basic handset might be suitable.

But if it’s to explore the internet, download apps, watch videos and make or receive video calls, a smartphone or a tablet might be more appropriate.

Explaining to your child about how bills add up could also help if you decide to take out a mobile contract.

Ofcom says parents should ensure their children understand what the monthly call, text or data allowance is, and what happens if they go over that limit.

They should also explain that certain phone numbers, such as for competitions or voting, may be charged at a premium rate.

To avoid any mishaps, it might be worth talking to your provider about whether they can bar calls to certain numbers, such as premium-rate lines.

Check the mobile device’s settings, which let you block in-app purchases.

Video guides which explain how you can turn off or password-protect in-app purchases can be found at ofcom.org.uk