Children’s spending habits in the UK shifted decisively towards online games since lockdown began earlier this year, according to a new survey that also found children have been saving record amounts of their pocket money.

RoosterMoney, a London-based pocket money app, surveyed 24,000 British children in the second quarter (April to June), the height of nationwide restrictions, and revealed that video games surpassed old favourites – such as sweets, books and magazines – in popularity.

According to The Financial Times, online games Roblox and Fortnite took the top two places on RoosterMoney’s pocket money index, knocking Lego into third spot, followed by books and magazines, and then sweets.

Interestingly, books and magazines, and sweets occupied the top two places as recently as the first quarter, or before major restrictions were introduced, suggesting a significant shift to digital spending over the past few months.

Lego remained in third place for children’s pocket money spending, which overall amounted to £4.60 per week, or £239 a year, in the three months under review.

“With the last few months accelerating our move to becoming a cashless society, we can see that reflected not only in our own spending habits, but in that of our children too,” said Will Carmichael, CEO of RoosterMoney.

However, he also noted that some parents have expressed concern about how to manage their children’s spending on these now more popular gaming apps because users can make in-app purchases on what are otherwise free-to-play games.

“You can go and spend a lot of money unwittingly,” he said. “Parents are happy for their kids to be on Roblox or Fortnite … but the spending side needs to be monitored.” (For more on what marketers can learn about gaming, read the WARC Guide to marketing in the gaming ecosystem.)

The RoosterMoney survey also revealed that children have been saving record sums, with the average savings rate at 43.5%, up from 38% in 2019, representing an average £104 in “rainy day” money.

“What’s encouraging is that the savings rates are so high regardless of what’s going on in the world,” said Carmichael.

“The last few months, for all their difficulties, have hopefully provided an opportunity for parents to have more conversations with their kids about money. It will be interesting to see how things change as kids head back to school.”

Sourced from The Financial Times; RoosterMoney; additional content from WARC