The questions you should ask before buying your child an internet-connected smart toy

The FTC says these questions will help parents know what to look out for and how to protect their children’s data

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before you know, it will be time for children to start opening presents this holiday season.

If those gifts include internet-connected toys, such as a smart speaker or a drone, there are some important questions to ask to make sure the toy is safe for a child to use, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC urges parents to find out whether an internet-connected smart toy will collect any personal information from their child. Even though many of us look at these toys as harmless, not everyone on the internet has good intentions.

The FTC says these questions can help you know what to look out for with an internet-connected smart toy and how to protect your children’s data:

  • Does the toy come with a camera or microphone? What will it be recording and will you know when the camera or microphone is on?
  • Does the toy let your child send emails or connect to social media accounts?
  • Can parents control the toy and be involved in its setup and management? What controls and options does it have? What are the default settings?
  • When your child plays with the toy, what kind of information does it collect?
  • Where is this data -- including pictures and recordings -- stored, how is it shared and who has access to it? Does the toy company give parents a way to see and delete the data? Is the information secure?

If the toy collects personal information from your child who is younger than 13 years old, the toy company has to tell you about its privacy practices, ask for your consent, protect and secure collected data, and give you the right to have your child’s personal information deleted.

For more information, visit the FTC’s Protecting Kids Online page.

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