Friday, July 21, 2017
Toys that talk to you, know your name and play like real friends? Toys today are a far cry from the cabbage patch kids and G.I. Joe’s their parents played with. Many toys these days can connect to the internet. One reason these new toys are so fascinating is their connectivity; but with this exciting level of engagement also comes the risks associated with kids being online. Parents must be aware of these risks and monitor how their children are playing.The FBI is warning parents to be careful when purchasing “smart” toys and when letting children use them. These toys can include microphones, cameras, sensors, data storage, and GPS capabilities. Potential dangers include invasion of privacy, financial fraud, and even child exploitation. The risks are present whether the device connects directly to the internet through Wi-Fi, or indirectly via a Bluetooth-enabled device like a cell phone.Parents are urged to check toy companies’ privacy policies and to be aware of how any data that is collected will be used, stored, and possibly shared with other companies. That’s in addition to keeping their home computers secure and using Wi-Fi safely whether they are at home or in public.The North Carolina Department of Justice has many helpful tips for consumers at www.ncdoj.gov. Visit the site to learn more about internet and consumer safety, or to file a complaint if you’ve been scammed or treated unfairly by a business.