The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning to parents in the past about the concerns with connected toys. Many parents recently bought the newest gadgets for their kids over the holidays, without realizing the capabilities of these toys to collect, maintain, sell and use personal information. As I chat with people about the cool gifts they gave their kids, it is worth mentioning again the risks associated with connected toys.

Toys are Internet of Things devices just like a smartphone, an alarm system or an oven. All of these computers can access, collect, maintain, sell and use the information they have access to in your home, including your child’s face, voice, conversations and location. Creepy—yes.

Prior to purchasing a smart toy for a child, understand its capabilities, whether it has a microphone, location based capabilities or a camera, what data it can collect and what it is doing with the data. Do a little research to see if there are any complaints about the toy or the manufacturer of the toy. Check the manufacturer’s privacy policy to see how they are collecting, protecting, disclosing or using your child’s data. Use secure WI-Fi to connect the toy. If you can create a password on the toy, create and use the password.

Remember that anything connected to the Internet is hackable. Make an educated choice before turning connected devices and toys on in your home. We have pointed out some examples in the past [view related post], but technology is advancing and is more sophisticated, so vigilance is warranted. After speaking with one of my friends about smart toys, she did some research and decided that it was not something she wanted her child to play with or that it be in her home at all.