Toys that “spy” on children are a rising, “frightening” threat, a recent study from a consumer watchdog has warned.
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund noted that certain toys that record children’s voices, images, locations and other information pose a risk to children’s safety and privacy.
The organization also noted that an increasing variety of toys are utilizing technological features — even once they don’t seem like doing so.
“It’s chilling to learn what a few of these toys can do,” Teresa Murray, co-author of the “Trouble in Toyland 2023” report, said in an announcement.
“Smart toys might be useful, fun or educational, but interacting with a few of them can create frightening situations for too many families.”
The worldwide marketplace for smart toys grew to $16.7 billion this 12 months from $14.1 billion last 12 months, based on a big market research firm, and is predicted to greater than double by 2027.
Nonetheless, experts are sounding the alarm warning that those technological toys have gotten an increasing security risk to children, as some have been caught improperly collecting and storing data — and even being hacked.
The growing threat of AI has also infiltrated the toy industry as this advanced, still experimental technology is being integrated into products advertised for youngsters as young as 3 years old.
The agency advises shoppers to research the products on a toddler’s wish list “before buying a toy with a microphone, a camera, a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection or any ability to gather details about young children.”
The report comes after the Federal Trade Commission accused Amazon of violating federal children’s privacy laws through its Alexa service by keeping the voice recordings of youngsters, horror stories of hackers talking to children through their baby monitors and an 11-year-old girl was kidnapped by a person she met through the net gaming platform Roblox.
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund recommends gift-givers ensure that they understand the technological capabilities of the toy, do an online seek for the toy to read reviews of the product and research the toy manufacturer to ascertain for a history of troubling violations.
Inquiries to ask when shopping:
- What features make this product a wise toy?
- Does it have a secure Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection?
- Does the toy allow the kid to hook up with the web and send emails or hook up with social media?
- Does it have a microphone or camera? If that’s the case, when will it record and the way will ?
- Who has access to the information collected?
- Does the toy manufacturer have a history of troubling violations?