App-happy kids costing more than just Pokémon-ey

27 July 2016

  • A third of parents admit children know the password on their mobile devices
  • More than a quarter of adults have or intend to download Pokémon Go
  • Nearly a quarter of adults download games more than once a fortnight, spending £11 or more per month

As Pokémon fever sweeps through the UK, new research1 from Nationwide Current Accounts reveals a third (33 per cent) of parents admit their children know the passwords to their mobile devices.

The Nationwide Building Society poll of 2,000 adults looked at how much of the UK is obsessed with mobile gaming and how much we individually spend on downloads, including in-app purchases.

According to the survey, more than a quarter of adults (27 per cent) have already downloaded or intend to download the Pokémon Go app – either for themselves or for their children.

And when it comes to kids accessing their parents’ phones and tablets, it’s likely that mum will be the softest touch – more than a third (36 per cent) of mothers admit their password is known by their children, compared to 31 per cent of fathers.

Older parents appear to keep their phones and tablets more secure, with only 28 per cent of those aged 55 and over indicating their children know the password for their devices. Younger parents are more laissez-faire, with 45 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 admitting their password isn’t secret from their kids.

The three UK locations where children are most likely to know the passwords of their parent’s mobile devices:

  • London (45 per cent)
  • Northern Ireland (43 per cent)
  • Scotland (40 per cent)

Locations where children are least likely to know their parent’s passwords:

  • East Midlands (21 per cent)
  • North East (23 per cent)

Although Pokémon Go is currently one of the most talked about apps across the country, Nationwide’s research shows that Candy Crush still remains one of the most popular games among adults with more than one in five admitting they’ve become obsessed with playing the app. The top five most obsessive games, according to the Nationwide poll, are:

  • Candy Crush series (22 per cent)
  • Angry Birds series (10 per cent)
  • The Sims (8 per cent)
  • Pokémon Go (6 per cent)
  • Football Manager (6 per cent)

Downloading games – a popular, but expensive pastime

Downloading games is a popular pastime across the country. According to the poll, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of Brits download games on their mobile device, console or computer at least once a fortnight, with men (27 per cent) more likely to do so than women (20 per cent).

When it comes to different ages, more than two in five (42 per cent) of 18 to 24 year olds download a game at least once a fortnight compared to a third (33 per cent) of those aged 35 to 44 and just one in ten (10 per cent) of those aged 55+.

Downloading games regularly can become a costly business. The survey shows one in ten (10 per cent) Brits admit spending £11 or more per month (at least £132 per year) on games covering both the purchase and other in-app purchases. Spending money on apps is easily done, especially when more than a quarter of adults (26 per cent) have a debit card linked to their app store account, with a further one in ten (10 per cent) using a credit card.

Child’s play

It can be even easier for children to spend money. In fact, according to the Nationwide survey, one in twenty (five per cent) adults say their children have run up a bill through taking advantage of in game purchases. Around one in seven (14 per cent) admit they’ve had a bill of £10 or more. One in twenty (five per cent) of Brits have also been the victim of 'pester power' and have caved in and purchased apps for their children.

Asked when their child most often uses an electronic device unsupervised, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of parents said straight after school. More than one in ten (11 per cent) of parents admitted their children logged on as soon as they wake up and before going to school.

Phil Smith, Nationwide’s Head of Current Accounts, comments: "Technology and gaming is part of everyday life for both adults and children and the launch of Pokémon Go, as well as the continued popularity of apps, such as Candy Crush, has certainly amplified that.

"With the rise of apps that offer in-game purchases, I would encourage parents to discuss the financial risks with their children and outline what is safe and acceptable usage. This is particularly pertinent when children use their parent’s devices given the number of adults that have a debit or credit card linked to their app store account.

"With the risk of being hit by an unexpected bill, it also makes sense to keep a regular eye on card transactions through internet and mobile banking."

Notes to Editors

1The poll of 2,000 UK adults was carried out by online market researchers,, and took place between 19 and 22 July 2016.

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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