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Tech toy safety: how to keep you kid safe in the era of smart toys

Posted at 8:24 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 20:24:33-05

LANSING, Mich. — In today's tech-heavy world, do you know what or who your child is accessing on their smart toys?

The Michigan Attorney General lists smart and connected toys as one of the most dangerous toys of the year and there's a lot you need to know before handing over that new tablet or phone.

These toys have microphones, cameras, and even GPS, all increasing your child's risk.

"It's an easy thing to do if a kid is begging it like 'here's your device,' and there's so much more. Once they have that, they're exposed, " Tech Smart Mom Blog founder Ashli Solitro said.

Exposed to what exactly? The possibilities are endless--just like the internet.

"It's a whole category now, cyberbullying, sexual predators that it opens up to," she added.

'Tech Smart Mom' Ashli Solitro says there's no one size or age that 'fits all' when it comes to giving your kid a piece of technology, but there are some steps you can take. For example, taking your child's maturity level into consideration over their age.

"You could have a child that is not doing very well in school, they're not very nice to those around them and everything else isn't meeting your expectations and you need to understand their maturity level because once they get that device they're going to focus on that," Solitro said.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office advises parents to check the privacy settings before handing it over to junior.

"You don't want any of your data shared in any way, shape, or form. You have to be mindful of what kind of controls are on the toy, and make sure your data isn't being accessed," Kelly Rossman-McKinney, who is the Communications Director for the Michigan Attorney General's Office said.

Each device and app is different, so you'll have to do your research.

"You can protect your home with different router options, you can protect the device itself, so there's a lot of different things to add layers of protection," Solitro explained.

But before you even dive into the settings, router options, or pour over the directions: there is one thing you need to ask yourself.

"The very first thing any parent needs to do is not ask the question if your child is ready for the device, but are you ready for them to have a device? And what I mean by that is are you ready to put the time and effort into research?" she said.

Solitro adds that sometimes it's best to slowly introduce your child to the new gadget, that way they don't get addicted.

This week, The Michigan Attorney General lists released a list of dangerous toys.

The Office of the Attorney General released a comprehensive list of dangerous toys to be aware of.

The list shows toys that have been recalled, as well as toys that are hazards.

Toys on the list include ride-on toys, toys with batteries, balloons, noise hazards, magnets, and Smart and connected toys.

When shopping for toys for kids keep an eye out for small parts that can be choking hazards, strings, sharp or rigid materials that could cut a kid, or projectiles like Nerf guns.

Nerf Ultra One was in the Top 10 Worst Toys because the fast, powerful flying darts could cause eye injuries.

Here are tips to consider when shopping:
- Choose age-appropriate toys
- Choose toys that match your child's interests and abilities
- Educate your older children about toy safety and recruit them to help supervise younger children
- If the child is under 3, assume the toy or product will go in their mouth
- Always gift with appropriate safety gear this at sized to fit
- Pay close attention to privacy settings on tablets or any toy that can record a child's voice
- Avoid toys and products with high-powered magnets

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