New data from youth research agency Dubit has shown that parents have a greater hold on in-app payments (IAP). The research shows that only 2 percent of kids have ever spent without their parent’s permission, and not one of the 500 kids surveyed had ever spent more than $16 on a single purchase. Furthermore, only 17 percent of children are allowed by parents to spend money in-game, and they rarely spend more than $3 in one go.

Of the 500 parents and children (ages 6 to 12) surveyed by Dubit, 71 percent of the children played mobile games, compared with 91 percent of parents. Only 17 percent allow their child to spend real money in-game. The data shows that such permissions increase as kids get older: the older the child, the more likely they are to conduct an in-app purchase.  

Eighty-seven percent of kids always ask their parents before making a purchase, and 11 percent usually ask, meaning that only 2 percent have ever bought something without their parents’ consent. Although 2 percent is still a worry, this does not appear to be a case of kids being out of control. It appears that parents acknowledge this as 41 percent of children who are allowed to make in-app payments know their parent’s app store account details.

One of the biggest criticisms leveled at the use of IAP in kids mobile games is the high price-point of some items, with some games offering single purchases costing up to $112.  However, not one of the children involved in the Dubit research had ever made a single purchase greater than $16. Only 5 percent of those allowed to make IAPs have spent $16 in one session, which equates to only 1 percent of all children that play mobile games. Forty-nine percent of the 17 percent of kids allowed to make IAPs have at most spent between $1.61 and $8.03 in a single transaction. Across all kids allowed to buy in-game the average single purchase is $3.33.

More than half of children who make IAPs say one of their favorite things to buy in-game is new levels. Forty-five percent like to purchase cosmetic items, such as clothing or furniture, to enhance their online identity and these items are just as popular with boys as they are with girls. Twenty-five percent choose to pay to speed-up in-game actions such as making crops grow.