Privacy Tip #381 – Research Risks of Smart Toys This Holiday Season
Thursday, November 30, 2023

The holidays are upon us, including “cyber week” filled with deals for shopping for the holidays. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is warning shoppers about smart toys this holiday season. In its article, “Consumer watchdog: ‘Smart toys’ put kids’ privacy at risk,” PIRG outlines the privacy risks associated with smart toys. The risks include the use of a camera, microphone, or location tracker embedded in the toy that can collect children’s personal information as well as their families’.

When purchasing a smart toy, I will venture to say that most families do not read the small print of the privacy policy that accompanies it or is on the manufacturer’s website to understand the data that the smart toy is collecting during its use. They are long and detailed, boring, and full of legalese. The devil is definitely in the details, and the details in the privacy policy are what you should be reading carefully before you gift a smart toy to any child.

The most basic understanding of the collection of data from a child while using a toy is of utmost importance before purchasing it. Read the privacy policy and make informed decisions for the protection of the child who is receiving the gift before you wrap it and give it (since, in most cases, children can’t make those decisions on their own). We all know that as soon as a toy is unwrapped by a child, it is virtually impossible to get it back! Let’s all protect kids’ privacy this holiday season and gift tech toys that are respectful of the collection and use of kids’ data or give good old-fashioned toys that don’t collect personal information through microphones, cameras, and location based services.

 

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