The growth of the Internet of things has made it possible to create an Internet of toys. Read on to know how smart toys can affect the privacy and the safety of both you and your child.
By Dr Debarati Halder
With technology making inroads into every aspect of our life, toys are also undergoing a change. Smart toys are replacing the traditional ones like Barbie dolls, superhero action figures and other play sets.
Smart toys, which may be connected to the Internet, are available in various forms like toy robots, dolls or toy cars. The typical features of these toys include functions like data storage, microphone, Bluetooth connectivity, speech recognition ability and digital cameras. To operate these toys, users may be required to provide information like email id, home address, user name, password and date of birth.
While children find these toys extremely interesting and entertaining, smart toys come with risks to privacy, similar to other smart gadgets. The problems related to privacy are compounded by the fact that the toys are operated by children, who are usually unaware of digital privacy issues.
Several research studies have suggested that smart toys can be hacked or the information requested by these toys from the user can be accessed and saved by an unscrupulous manufacturer or software developer for use later.
Let us look at some privacy infringement risks that smart toys can expose children and their families to:
While smart toys do pose the above-mentioned, and more, hazards, it doesn’t mean that we should deny children a chance to own them. We must always remember that, as aware and alert parents, we can make smart toys safe for our children by managing how our children handle them and play with them. Furthermore, we should also make our children aware of the risks smart toys can pose to our privacy and security if not handled carefully.
Dr Debarati Halder is the Honorary Managing Director of the Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling (www.cybervictims.org). She is also working as Professor & Head of the Department of Research, Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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