The group is especially concerned about ‘smart toys.’
Baltimore, Md (KM). This is the time of year when many parents go shopping for toys to give to their children for the holidays. “Toys have definitely gotten a lot safer over the past 30 years. We have made a lot of progress,” says Kyanna Cadwallader, an organizer with the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.
But Cadawallader says there are still some dangerous toys on store shelves, and available for order on line. . “We found six types of Slime that have boron, which is a toxic chemical that can cause nausea, vomiting and long term reproductive health disorders,” she says.
In addition, PIRG found a toy plane that was excessively noisy. “And we also have a smart toy, the Wonder Works Shop-Robot, that shares information with third parties, and may also sell information to advertisers. And the last hazard we highlight every year are choking hazards,” she says. They include balloons, which present a choking hazard and do not have warning labels that say this product is not for small children.
“Smart” toys could be a hot item during the holiday season. “It’s not something new. Smart toys have been fairly exploding in popularity. But the problem is that a lot of parents don’t know what information the toys are recording on their child, and they don’t who that information is being shared with,” says Cadawallader.
If parents decide to purchase a “smart” toy, they need to protect their children’s privacy. “Is there is an option to turn off those features of information sharing,” she says. “A lot of times there’ s not, or you can’t fully turn it off. So that’s something to look for. And then just consider how this information on your child can propose a potential security risk.” That includes identity theft and a child’s habits being shared with advertisers.
The Trouble in Toyland report can be downloaded on the line from https://marylandpirg.org.
By Kevin McManus