Apple is set to pay out around £66m ($100m) to settle a US lawsuit which claims children were improperly charged while playing iPad and iPhone games.

It is alleged that poor safeguards meant kids were easily able to buy extra features for the free games without their parents’ knowledge or permission. Court papers claim: “Apple failed to adequately disclose that third-party Game Apps, largely available for free and rated as containing content suitable for children, contained the ability to make In-App Purchases.”

Martin Money Saving Expert commented: It’s the financial nightmares you never thought would happen that really hurt. “My six-year-old spent £3,200 on an iPhone game”. Letting youngsters sit on your knee while you use your smartphone or tablet means they’re likely to know your password, and that can be expensive.

Recently, England rugby player Sam Vesty got smacked with a £3,200 bill after his six and eight-year-olds bought their virtual farm animals a virtual mountain of food, with real cash, at £70 a pop over three hours. This is just one of countless examples I’ve heard of. It’s disgusting that a kids’ game allows this, but it happens, so protect yourself. 

If you’re going to let the kids use your tech, there are tips to follow. Protect your password – your kids may know it without you knowing, so change regularly. Plus ensure your phone’s “in app purchases” setting is restricted, so it needs a password. Most phones let you do this. Also speak to your network about financial and parental controls.

An alternative with iPhones is to delink your credit/debit card from your account and buy vouchers instead. Then it’ll never go over the top. And, finally, if all goes wrong and you’ve been stung by a massive charge due to the kids, do call up and explain. Often they’ll wipe it on a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy – as they did for the rugby-playing dad.   

For the full Sky report, click here