• Kyodo

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Children are increasingly paying to play smartphone-based games by secretly using their parents’ credit cards, the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan warned Friday.

There were 490 cases of children under 10 brought to consumer centers nationwide in fiscal 2013, a roughly threefold rise from the previous year and representing around 8 percent of all cases involving smartphone games that year, they said.

In the roughly two-month period since fiscal 2014 began in April, the ratio has risen to 13 percent.

The underlying trend seems to be that children are learning to become smartphone-savvy by being allowed to play with the gadgets from an early age, the officials said.

In one extreme case, a 2-year-old happened to buy game items while playing a smartphone equipped to pay online, they said. The child’s older sibling knew how to play the games for free as well, they said.