As we approach this busiest time of the year for shopping, Black Friday to Cyber Monday, lawmakers and child safety experts have words of warning for parents looking to buy toys.
The Public Interest Research Group released its 37th annual Trouble in Toyland report highlighting the dangers of many popular children’s products.
Whether you’re shopping in store or online, authorities have this message: buyer beware.
“We know you’re going to be shopping, we know you’re going to be shopping for toys online,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor from Florida’s 14th Congressional District. “You need to be particularly cognizant online of the dangerous toys.”
Lawmakers and safety experts across the country are commenting on this year’s report which outlines dangerous toys.
Joan Lawrence with The Toy Association recommends looking for the three R’s when buying products for children.
“First off, reputation,” she said. “Is it a well-known seller or brand that you’re familiar with? If so, you can feel confident about making that purchase. Research — you need to do a little more research to see what you can find about the brand. Third, reviews.”
About 200,000 people, including 79,000 children age 4 and younger, go to an emergency room each year because of toy-related injuries or illnesses, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In the 2022 report, researchers found an overwhelming number of counterfeit or knockoff toys, even car seats. These can have toxic chemicals, deadly defects, be flammable or cause choking hazards.
The U.S. regulates companies, enforcing strict safety standards. However, some online retailers sell cheap goods from overseas that are not up to par. Another big problem is legitimate products that have been recalled but aren’t pulled from shelves or online inventories.
“I am just astonished and appalled at the numbers of recalled products freely available on Facebook Marketplace, and eBay,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut. “I’m just flabbergasted on the absence of any real responsibility on these platforms where they are selling.”
Safety groups highlighted 10 of the top recalled toys this year, everything from this activity table to a play tent to a “Blue’s Clues” ride-on toy.
“When companies are refusing to conduct a recall in a timely manner for a product that we believe to be hazardous we are acting to let the public know the danger,” said Alex Hoehn-Saric with CPSC.
Experts are also warning about button batteries, high-powered magnets, and internet-connected toys that could harvest your child’s personal information or potentially open the door to online predators.
“Be sure that you go into the settings for those toys and be sure they are not tracking and gathering personal information for your child and building that web ID presence,” Castor added.
Authorities said nothing replaces parents keeping watch over their children — which should be a top priority.