Internet connected toys are becoming more popular, and as the holidays are approaching, your child may even have an internet connected toy on his or her Christmas list. And with the heightened popularity of those sophisticated toys, it’s likely that you’ve probably heard a horror story or two about people hacking into children’s toys to spy on the family or about the amount of data that the toy company collects on your child as they use the toy. We don’t want to deter you from buying the toys your children want, but you should know a few things before you do so. Here are a few things that you should think about before you give in and purchase your child that new tech toy.
What kind of data does the toy company collect? Understanding what information, if any, is collected on your child by the toy company is essential to the security of your child. Often, toy companies will collect information on your child to re-target ads to your children. Although this may seem harmless, it is on the verge of being an unethical business practice. If you can opt out of information being collected on your child, then be sure to opt out. Not only that, you don’t want any data that is collected on your child getting into the wrong hands if the toy company or its vendors have a data breach.
What features does the toy have? It’s important to understand what types of hardware the toy has. Cameras and microphones on a toy can be a great experience for your child, but are these features safe? Nothing is one-hundred percent safe, but there are things you can do to make the toy safer. Make sure you can change the settings of when the toy can utilize its camera and microphone to be only when the child is using it. This reduces the risk of eavesdroppers through the toy.
What does this mean? The fear of unwanted people having access to your child can be scary, but it shouldn’t deter you from buying the kid a fun toy. Just make sure that the settings can be changed on the information that is collected and when certain hardware features can be used.
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*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25