Urgent warning over smart toys that could spy on your kids as parents hunt for Christmas gifts

PARENTS in the midst of holiday shopping are being warned about smart toys that could spy on their children.

As the holidays are approaching, experts are advising that parents think twice when buying smart toys as they could spy on children and may even steal their identities. 

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Smart toys, though popular, can have the ability to become compromised, making it easy for hackers to spy on childrenCredit: Getty

Smart toys, or toys that come with a camera or microphone and can connect to the internet, make up a $6billion industry.

“All these could create privacy concerns with your child and while not all smart toys are dangerous, it’s incredibly alarming that a child’s privacy could be at risk,” said Hannah Rhodes.

Rhodes, an associate with US PIRG, a non-profit that looks at consumer health and safety issues, wrote a report titled Trouble in Toyland which found security risks in some smart toys.

The risks involved data being collected on a child, hackers getting access through Bluetooth connection or children being exposed to inappropriate content. 

“This year in our report, we actually looked at a children’s karaoke machine, and it was able to be connected to by Bluetooth.

“What we found is even if the toy was turned on and you didn’t hit the Bluetooth pairing button, you could connect to it from 30 feet away outside your home,” said Rhodes.

Children could also have their information stolen if a game or app requires a profile. The child’s log-in information could lead to identity theft.

Toy companies, by law, are required to tell parents about their privacy practices if their toys collect personal information on children younger than 13.

The companies must ask for parental consent and give parents the right to have their children’s personal information deleted.

But hackers might find it easier to steal that information since toy companies aren’t tech companies. 

Rhodes says parents need to be present when a smart toy is being set up. If your child needs to create an account, make sure a strong password is being used and sensitive information isn’t being given out.

“They are becoming more popular and that’s why it’s important that we are discussing what issues could possibly occur and making sure we’re stopping or preventing them before they happen,” said Rhodes.

Many of these toys have cameras and microphones and can connect to the internet, which is why parents must be present when the toys are being set up

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Many of these toys have cameras and microphones and can connect to the internet, which is why parents must be present when the toys are being set upCredit: Getty

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