Thinking of buying your kid a ‘smart toy’ for Christmas? Beware of hidden dangers

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Many parents spend time scouring stores to find gifts to put under the Christmas tree. After all, there’s nothing like the smile on a kids face when they unwrap gifts. 

This season, some of the newest toys on the shelves is the smart toy – also known as connected toys. 

They come in all shapes and sizes, but have varying degrees of connectivity that allows your child to interact through a smart device. 

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning that internet-connected toys could pose threats to children due to personal information that may be unknowingly revealed by these devices.

“My advice to parents, like anything else involving technology, even for adults: know what you’re buying. Know what you’re getting into,” said security expert Chris Duque. 

He says smart toys often have features like a camera, microphone, and internet access. 

“A very innocent looking doll, or robot, might put their child at risk because their child interacting with a toy may be sending information out to the internet and they may not know who the audience is,” said Duque.  

He also warns of another hidden danger: 

“Anything electronic, can be hacked. If you know where to look and have the time and the resources, they can hack the toys,” he said.  

To keep your child safe, Duque suggests the following:

  • Research the product before buying, and check reviews for red flags over security. 
  • If the toy has a camera, cover or tape over it when not in use. 
  • Talk to your kid about what kind of information is okay to share with the toy, and turn it off when it’s not being used. 

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