Mobile gaming safety

Kids playing games

Here's everything you need to know about mobile gaming safety, including how to set safety filters and avoid hefty bills for in-app purchases.

According to a recent report from Newzoo, the mobile games industry made a whopping £77.2 billion of revenue in 2020, making it one of the biggest entertainment markets in the world.

This, coupled with the fact that almost 80% of Brits currently own a smartphone, means that number will probably get even bigger – especially during coronavirus, which has seen more kids relying on games like Candy Crush and Pokémon Go to occupy them whilst stuck indoors.

Problem is, just like the internet, the mobile games industry is fraught with potentially harmful content, risks to your personal details and online predators.

So how can you keep your children safe? Here’s our top mobile gaming safety tips:

Only download approved apps

Game on phone

An approved app is one that’s been downloaded from the Google Play Store or App Store, and not from a third party or website you don’t recognisze.

You see, some apps will request access to your social media accounts and, while this is fairly normal nowadays, if the app you’ve downloaded isn’t approved, your personal information – including bank details and contact information – could well be at risk from hackers.

To avoid this, it pays to set filters where you can.

How to set filters

Some mobile games have online chatrooms where it can be difficult to monitor who your child comes into contact with, as well as add-ons and premium features for hefty prices.

Fortunately, you can monitor the content your children see and what they purchase through their Android or iPhone by setting filters.

How to set filters on an Android phone:

  • Restrict content in Google Play Store. To do this, log into Play Store with your own or your child’s Google Account.
  • Next, launch Google Play and click on the three horizontal lines at the top left. Hit ‘Settings’ and find ‘Parental Controls.’
  • From here, you’ll be able to set parental controls and create a pin for the restrictions you’ve applied.

How to set filters on iPhone:

To prevent your child from installing or deleting apps on iPhone and making in-app purchases:

  • Find Settings and hit Screen Time.
  • Next, select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  • If asked, enter your passcode. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases.
  • Choose a setting and set to Don't Allow.

Want to know more about keeping your child safe on iPhone? Check out or comprehensive guide.

Pay attention to PEGI ratings

Phone with GTA game

Just like buying a movie, online games come with age-ratings which let you know if they are suitable for your child to play.

Problem is, not every mobile game is rated in the same way. For example, one game might be rated 9 and over by the App Store, but 12 and over by its manufacturers, usually because it has a chat room, for example.

To that end, it’s probably a good idea to do a little research into the game before allowing your child to play it.

Be wary of free-to-play games

In our recent study, we found that along with 67% of adults, 80% of children currently have at least one free-to-play game on their device.

In this same study, we discovered many of the top online mobile games actually feature in-app purchases, despite being marketed as free-to-play.

Moreover, 97% of players had made at least one in-game purchase on a free-to-play game, with almost half claiming to have spent a whopping £400 or more on in-app purchases for a single free-to-play game.

Of course, not every mobile game will cost money – some start out free, but will later charge for premium features. Still, this can be worrying if you’re a parent, and is a good reason to be cautious.

To avoid extra charges, it’s worth explaining to your children the importance of checking with you before making an in app-purchase. Alternatively, you can deactivate the in-app setting on your child’s phone, or set-up a password to download from the app store.

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