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Tips for Choosing Cyber-Safe Toys

By January 8, 2024Insurance

As the holiday season approaches and children build their wish lists, smart toys may be at the top.

In fact, by 2027, the smart toy market is expected to exceed $24 billion.

You may not have thought about it, but internet-connected toys typically have a built-in microphone and speaker and can potentially expose children and others in their household to data or identity theft.

How Smart are Smart Toys?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, smart toys run the risk of being accessed by criminals, just like any smart device.

So, while they are educational and fun for kids, do a little research first to help bring some peace of mind. 

What should you know about the toy? 

  • Conduct a quick internet search. Look for any articles or complaints regarding security or privacy issues. Using terms such as “toy name” + “privacy” will yield results.
  • Research security updates by searching “toy name” + “firmware” or “software” update. See what results pop up and if there’s an option to update the software or information about released updates. Without this page, the company might not issue regular software updates, which could leave it vulnerable to security breaches.
  • See what watchdog and safe harbor groups have to say. Reviews and recommendations are common for children’s toys.

What features should you understand?

  • Know what the microphone and speaker will be doing within the toy. Does it communicate back to the child and answer questions? Does it record? How long does it hold onto a recording? Be cautious about the data provided. It is essential to carefully review the terms, conditions and privacy policies to understand how the data collected will be used and protected.
  • Determine the usage of Bluetooth on the toy. What does the Bluetooth connection do? Is there a PIN associated with it? Without a PIN, the Bluetooth connection can be accessed by anyone and monitored to find vulnerabilities. With a PIN, the connection is essentially locked, and other devices cannot access it.
  • Understand what data is being accessed by the pairable app. Does it need access to an email or credit card? Does it connect to social media accounts? Does it require access to the photo gallery?
  • Look for parental controls. Are there parental controls within the app or toy? How can a parent manage data and its use?
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