Consumer Reports: Privacy risks posed by digital children's toys

Consumer Reports said last year hackers targeted millions of kids playing with Vtech electronic toys, and just recently regulators in Europe recalled a children's smartwatch because it posed a serious risk of being hacked. But there are easy ways to keep your kids' info safe.

Meylin Wong worried about the privacy risks posed by the connected toys her kids play with.

"It is scary, yes. Because I have little kids. I know my five-year-old now knows how to spell her name, her last name, where she lives and all this stuff," she said.

While digital toys can be fun and educational, they introduce some privacy and security risks not found in old fashioned board games.

"Parents should be aware that connected toys are just like any other kind of internet thing. They're connected to your router, which goes to the internet. And they have the ability to collect information and send it back and forth," said Bree Fowler, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

They also have the ability to be hacked. But Consumer Reports offered some important perspective.

"Information can't be stolen and can't be shared if you don't hand it over in the first place," Fowler said.

So, what can parents do to keep their kids' personal data safe?

"Toys will often ask for things like your child's name, or address or age but you have to remember that hackers can use this information. So, there's nothing wrong with giving a fake birthday or using a child's nickname instead of their real name," said Fowler.

Consumer Reports said parents should also set strong passwords on connected toys using a string of random words. Use a password manager if you need help.

"Basically, these items can be used as a gateway into your computer network and you need to make sure everything is locked down," Fowler said.

Consumer Reports also advises you talk to your kids starting at a young age about what to share online and what to keep private.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.
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