Gone are the board games and teddy bears; many children’s Christmas and birthday wish lists now feature robot puppies, selfie microphones and fitness trackers.
Billions of objects will be connected to the internet over the next few years. From light bulbs to traffic lights, bicycles to thermostats, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives, including the way children play. While connected toys and games can certainly entertain, inspire and educate young people, parents also need to be aware of the potential pitfalls.
Toys are getting smarter
Many toys now have built-in cameras, use voice recognition and connect to the internet. 1990s favourite Furby has had a 21st century revival thanks to Bluetooth connectivity and one of this year’s hot picks is CHiP the robot dog, which kids can play with via an app.
But could smart toys – many of which store large amounts of user data – put your child’s privacy or safety at risk?
Some toys could violate users’ privacy because they record sensitive data such as children’s names, addresses and schools without parental consent and share them with third parties. Others have been found to be vulnerable to hackers and scammers.
If your son or daughter has the latest smart toy, check the manufacturer’s guidance and consider the following: