Connected toys

Internet connected toys are becoming more widely available—ranging from educational tablet-based toys, through to connected teddy bears, dolls and toy robots.

While they can offer lots of benefits through interactive play and education, they also come with some controversy and concern.

How do they work?

They work by being connected wirelessly to the internet and software that comes with the toy. In most cases you need to connect and synchronise toys with smart devices through an online account.

What can they do?

Different toys offer different capabilities, such as:

  • built-in cameras
  • speech recognition technology where they can ‘listen’ and respond to children
  • sensors that can guide and monitor a child’s task and play
  • web browsers.

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Teddy

What do I need to be aware of?

Privacy concerns:

  • internet connected toys, and accompanying user accounts, may store personal information, such as your child’s name, age, gender and, in some cases, location
  • they may also store ‘conversations’ with children—recorded voice data
  • these databases and recordings can be exposed to third parties—including hackers—revealing your child’s personal information which may then be used for dubious purposes.

How can I protect my information?

There are steps you can take to help protect your, and your child’s, privacy:

  • set strong passwords to secure accounts and make sure your child doesn’t share the password with friends
  • stay informed of any security and software updates
  • be aware that toys may collect personal information directly from your child through interactive play
  • check  if recording devices can be manually de-activated
  • understand what happens with the information you, or your child, provide when setting up the account or through interactive play—are there any third party apps or software that can access your data?

 

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