Toys that “surveil” children are a growing “terrifying” threat, a new study by a consumer watchdog has warned.
of US PIRG Educational Fund pointed out that certain toys that record children’s voices, images, locations, and other information pose risks to children’s safety and privacy.
The organization also noted that more toys are taking advantage of technological features, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
“It’s chilling to see what some of these toys can do,” says Teresa Murray, co-author of the book. “Trouble in Toyland 2023” reportsaid in a statement.
“Smart toys can be useful, fun, and even educational, but interacting with some toys can create scary situations for too many families.”
According to the report, the global market for smart toys has grown from $14.1 billion last year to $16.7 billion this year. Major market research companyis predicted to more than double by 2027.
But experts have warned that these technological toys pose increased safety risks for children. Some have been victims of improper data collection and storage, or even hacking.
The growing threat of AI is also making its way into the toy industry, with this advanced and still experimental technology being incorporated into products advertised to children as young as 3 years old.
The agency advises shoppers to check products on children’s wish lists “before purchasing toys with microphones, cameras, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, or features that can collect information about young children.” ing.
The report will come after that Federal Trade Commission slams Amazon Horror stories of hackers violating federal child privacy laws by recording children’s voices through the Alexa service and talking to children through baby monitors; 11-year-old girl kidnapped by man she met on online gaming platform Roblox incidents, etc. .
The U.S. PIRG Educational Foundation urges gift givers to ensure they understand the toy’s technical capabilities, search for the toy on the web and read product reviews, and check the toy’s manufacturer for any history of troubling violations. We recommend that you do so.
Questions to ask when shopping:
- What features make this product a smart toy?
- Is there a secure Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection?
- Will the toy allow my child to connect to the internet to send email or connect to social media?
- Are there microphones or cameras? If so, when are they recorded? And how do I know?
- Who has access to the data collected?
- Does the toy manufacturer have a history of troubling violations?