It is now believed that more than a quarter of children aged between 5 and 15 own a Smartphone, with a considerably higher amount having access to them. This fact coupled with pressure from the website ÂMumsnetÂ has led to the announcement that the Office of Fair Trading will begin an investigation into how Âin app add onsÂ are marketed to children.
Many of these Âin app add onsÂ are made available to the user after they have downloaded a free App. Thousands of complaints have been made and in one case a child ran up a bill of Â£3,000 by purchasing Âin app add onsÂ.
The seriousness of this has been brought to the attention of the OFT after Apple recently agreed to pay $100m to parents in compensation for children purchasing these Âin app add onsÂ.
As well as OFT looking into whether the price of the additional content is sufficiently made clear to the user before purchase. An investigation will take place to determine whether this content falls into section 28 of OFT’s ÂBanned Practices (Schedule 1) GuidanceÂ which will be deemed a breach if they are a:
Â Âdirect exhortations to childrenÂ Â a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them”.
OFT has made it clear that they do not wish to place a ban on the sale of these additional Âin appÂ services, however they wish to ensure they are complying with the relevant regulations.
Due to the size and profitability of this market, businesses who operate in this sector are sure to want to comply with OFTÂs practices. The OFT are set to make a further announcement on this matter in October 2013.