Household Security and Smart Toys -15

Smart toy technologies provide families with many new benefits including convenience, customization, and safety. In addition, more parents today are choosing connected toys for their children, either for play or for learning and development. Smart Toys popular in the current market connect to each other and to online platforms via Wi-Fi, bluetooth, or other methods to provide personalized or interactive experiences for children. While the potential benefits are considerable and include new opportunities for personalized and interactive play and learning concerns are being raised about whether such smart toys are collecting too much personal information may be used or shared, and whether it is secure. As connected toys become more popular and issues of cybersecurity rise in urgency, it is important for key privacy issues to be addressed. For toy manufacturers and industry professionals, these concerns are particularly critical because toys are used inside the most traditionally private location, the home, and may collect data from children. Trust is a crucial precondition for widespread adoption of connected toys. Parents must be satisfied that the digital products they invite into their homes will safeguard children’s privacy and keep information secure. Unfortunately for parents the technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated making the task of providing sufficient privacy and security more difficult. Although many parents may not possess a high level understanding of cyber security there are still steps parents can take to mitigate many of the security issues associated with smart toys. Advocacy groups such as the Family Online Safety Institute offer parents a number of resources to assist them in providing adequate cybersecurity in the household. FOSI is an international, non-profit organization which works to make the online world safer for kids and their families.  FOSI convenes leaders in industry, government and the non-profit sectors to collaborate and innovate new solutions and policies in the field of online safety.  Through research, resources, events and special projects, FOSI promotes a culture of responsibility online and encourages a sense of digital citizenship for all. With the assistance with groups like FOSI parents can empower themselves to be proactive with their cybersecurity. As IOT devices become more and more prevalent parents of smart toy users will have to take it upon themselves to provide their families with adequate cyber security. Trends indicate that securing your smart toys and other IOT devices will become as important as other household security practices such locking windows and doors. With many large scale smart toy security breaches taking in recent years it is important for parents to understand the inherent security privacy associated with smart toys. The technology in smart toys can provide users with useful and enjoyable experiences but they can also provide a gateway for hackers to enter the home. Additionally, many smart toys collect large amounts of personal data about their users, there are currently many legal grey areas associated with IOT devices including smart toys; toy manufacturers, have few restrictions on collecting data, therefore it is crucial for parents to take it upon themselves to read the fine print and investigate the smart toys being used in their homes. Parents are advised by advocacy groups such as FOSI to seek out information regarding data collection practices of their smart toy purchases such as how, what, and why their data is being collected. Many toy companies sell the data they collect to third parties and also use the information for targeted marketing. During the collection process the data collected by the toys is analyzed and can used to make “intelligent” recommendations for the users based on the results of the data collected. Data collection can be used as tool for targeted marketing, in some instances this may be helpful to users but it also can be exploited; it is important for parents to closely monitor the data their children are providing to smart toys.


2 thoughts on “Household Security and Smart Toys -15

  1. hi matthew,
    your post reminds me of the Disney Channel Original Movie, “Smart House”. you know what made that movie great? the fact that it was a movie. your post brings up a lot of good concerns, especially the security aspect. now with smart toys, even the kids are at risk and that’s even more frightening. it’s scary because parents are under the impression that at home their children are safe but soon even home won’t be a protective source. let’s hope kids are safe for as long as possible.
    -noemi cuin


  2. Smart parents are apparently in short supply- you can bet data collected from these toys will become information that will be used against them in one form or another. Time to revert to reading books and playing outside instead of spending all the time with devices that monitor your every move.


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