ParentsTogether, a national parent-led organization that helps highlight some of the biggest parenting issues, has released its first Dangerous Tech Toys List just in time for the holidays.
With many popular gifts this holiday season requiring an internet connection, this also increases the risk of digital privacy concerns – especially among some of the youngest kids. As this list makes clear, even gifts you may not consider toys or don’t think of as dangerous come with cybersecurity risks.
“This guide isn’t a ‘what not to buy list,’” the organization writes. “No toy or device that connects to the internet can be made completely safe because tech companies haven’t designed their products with children’s safety in mind. Instead, our goal is to help parents learn what dangers might be associated with certain toys and how to keep kids of all ages safer while they play.”
Breaking down the risks by age
ParentsTogether broke down the list by different age groups, and which internet or Bluetooth-connected gifts might come with privacy risks.
eKids Paw Patrol Walkie Talkies
The Singing Machine Kids Karaoke Machine
Amazon Fire HD Kids Pro Edition
KidKraft Amazon Alexa 2-in-1 Kitchen & Market
VTech KidiZoom Creator Cam
Meta Quest VR Headset
Hidrate Spark PRO Smart Water Bottle
HiMirror Slide Smart Face Mirror with LED Light, Skin Analyzer, and Video and Music Streaming
YouTube Premium Subscription
Any Internet-Connected Device – Tablets, Smartphones, Computers, Smartwatches
What are the biggest risks?
While each gift comes with its own set of privacy risks, there was some overlap among many of the biggest concerns.
Another big risk with many of these gifts is related to predators or hackers. When they’re connected to unsecured WiFi networks, or stay connected to Bluetooth when not in use, they can become vulnerable to hackers. This can be dangerous when kids are playing with these toys by themselves and can’t spot red flags that can compromise their safety and well-being.
With other items, ParentsTogether worries about mental health impacts. For example, the YouTube Premium subscription makes it all too easy for kids to get sucked into excessive screen time, while the Smart Mirror mimics social media filters, which can affect kids’ body images.
While there is no way to escape gifts that connect to the internet or Bluetooth, understanding the risks and knowing how to combat them as much as possible, is the best course of action. Information on these popular gifts can help parents keep their kids safe – while also having fun – this holiday season.
Read ParentsTogether’s full list of dangerous tech toys here.