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Smart toys: what you should know before you buy one for your child

Learn a little about connected toys

Connected toys are Internet-enabled devices with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other built-in capabilities. These toys, which may or may not be smart toys, provide a more personalized experience for children through integrated software that includes voice recognition and web search features. A connected toy generally collects information about users, either voluntarily or involuntarily, which raises privacy concerns. The data collected by plugged-in toys is usually stored in a database, where companies that produce plugged-in toys can use the data for their own purposes under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Manufacturers and experts warn of the risks of not controlling devices that can access images and recordings of children, get personal information and even contact them.

There are four main dangers that e-toys, the connected electronic toys, generally known as smart-toys, project on the youngest in the house: the loss of personal data, the tracking of them as users, the remote control of the device and the interception of communications or their impersonation.

Very severely, the new guide ‘Cybersecurity in Smart Toys’ produced by the National Institute of Security (INCIBE) and the Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers (AEFJ) points out that “the privacy of children’s data can be seriously compromised by toys equipped with communication capabilities with other devices to share data such as location or conversations”.

Among the most common functionalities of these connectivity toys are the ability to record or transmit images (drones or remote-controlled vehicles with cameras), record, play or recognize voice (robots that attend to orders), interact with applications on a mobile or tablet (play with other users, share photos of the game), or navigate and communicate through the Internet (mobile phones and tablets for children, watches and similar devices that send messages).

This new document warns that “the privacy of children’s data can be seriously compromised by toys that have the ability to communicate with other devices to share data such as location or conversations”.

For this reason, the authors of the text warn that “under no circumstances should they provide the toy with data that could be used to locate the child, and before sharing it with or disposing of it, they should take precautions to delete any data that might have been stored”.

The information collected and stored by these connected toys draw up profiles on the age, tastes and interests of the young players, and this may entail certain risks. While the aim of the game is to adapt to the profile of the young user in order to perfect the interaction, others should not be ruled out. Among them, advertising directed at minors through the same application of their game. Or, even more dangerous, the sale and transmission of such personal data to third parties for other commercial purposes.

As the guide states, “toys that incorporate Internet connection and artificial intelligence functionalities have the ability to communicate with other devices, as well as to connect to different services on the Internet. This new situation may put at risk the privacy and security of both the child and his or her family environment”.

On 28 January 2019, the European Commission published an initiative to regulate the cyber security of devices connected to the Internet (IoT or Internet of Things) and portable radio equipment (wifi, NFC1, bluetooth, etc.), including toys that can be connected to other devices such as smart phones, computers and cloud services.

In addition, it is recalled that when we talk about connected toys we refer to “those that incorporate the necessary or accessory features for their operation, through the Internet or that allow interaction with other devices such as tablets, smartphones or smartwatches, through a variety of technologies such as wifi or bluetooth”.

Sensors, microphones and cameras incorporated into toys can access family privacy

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Connected toys have sensors, microphones or cameras that facilitate the exchange of information and interaction with children. Without proper control, this information can put personal data of the child and his family in unknown hands, inform about tastes, schedules and location and obtain images or videos recorded in the home or family environment.

According to the document “Cybersecurity in Smart Toys”, the manufacture of these types of toys must include secure measures for the information they manage as well as the resources and permissions they have access to:

Security in authentication mechanisms

Information Encryption

The information on the device or that circulating in your communications with other devices or over the Internet, must be protected against possible attacks against its confidentiality and integrity, such as those produced in the case of interception of communications.

Security updates

Only those over 14 years of age may consent to the use of personal data

The privacy of minors using all these types of toys must be protected by the companies that handle all this data, strictly following the General Data Protection Regulations. It is established that “the treatment of the personal data of a minor can only be based on his/her consent when he/she is older than fourteen years old”.

It is very important to know that the manufacturers of toys have limited capacity to share data with third companies as these can only be shared with their consent. As stated in the General Data Protection Regulation, “the holders of the parental authority may exercise in the name and on behalf of minors under fourteen years of age, the rights of access, rectification, cancellation and opposition” in order to control or prevent the fraudulent obtaining of personal data.

In the informative document ‘Guide for the safe use of connected toys’, promoted by INCIBE and AEFJ, among the basic measures to safely configure these toys, it is recommended to change the passwords and security codes for the connection with other devices to prevent anyone who has had a similar toy from using the generic keys to access their own. It is advisable to keep the application updates up to date to correct security flaws and warn to turn off the toy when it is not being used to avoid it being permanently collecting data without us noticing.

And above all, experts, both in computer safety and in the manufacture of toys, advise assessing the recommended age for the use of toys and calibrating the necessary maturity of each child who must use it safely. From both sectors it is recommended to accompany the child in the game to guide him/her on how to play in a responsible way.

Electronic toys have security measures that are easier to hack.

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With the increasingly widespread introduction of new technologies and artificial intelligence, toys have been ‘mutated’ into what we know today as connected toys and ‘Smart Toys’. These new products, with their surprising and innovative designs, allow for much greater interaction, and are already in all toy shops and on the Christmas cards of the little ones.

The truth is that their appeal is undeniable and that is what makes these smart toys arouse interest and curiosity. However, the safety of these products is much lower as they are easier to hack into than other electronic devices that contain more ‘relevant’ data such as bank accounts or private data. We also have the added bonus that it is not the adult who will be handling these toys, but the children who will be interacting with them, so the danger increases as they are much less aware of the risks they may be running.

The National Institute of Cybersecurity (INCIBE) and the Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers (AEFJ) advocate for a “safe and responsible” manufacturing of connected toys and for that, they have launched a series of guidelines to ensure the safety of this new type of toys.

They have published them in the guide ‘Cybersecurity in Smart Toys’ to ensure safety “in the design of connected toys, in addition to raising awareness among parents and educators in the safe and responsible use of these devices by children,” both organizations said in a statement.

They also warn of the need for greater caution, especially with those toys that are connected to the Internet or some application and have artificial intelligence functions. These, like ‘Siri’ or ‘Alexa’, have the ability to communicate and maintain a conversation – more or less complete – by accessing data on the Internet.

These new toys, which according to the statement combine the characteristics of a traditional toy with the games of mobile devices or tablets, are increasingly demanded by children. Therefore, these organizations have decided to make a guide that advises parents of these children, so that they take into account the shared advice when buying and enjoying this type of toys.

Tips for buying and using a connected toy
These two organizations, along with Internet Safety for Kids (IS4K), have published these tips through 6 common questions that can arise when buying or operating a connected toy.

A connected toy can “answer commands or questions, capture images through integrated cameras or even connect to the mobile phone through applications,” they explain in the guide. Therefore, they can be classified by the functions they have, whether they record or transmit images (like drones), record, play or recognize voice (like a robot), interact with an application (to play with other users) or surf and communicate over the Internet (like watches or bracelets that allow you to send messages).

All of these functions involve a fairly high level of exposure to private information and to the lives of individuals and those around them. Therefore, they warn that it is important to ensure that the chosen toy is completely safe and appropriate “to the age and maturity of the child”. In addition, it is advisable to read the privacy policy, to be aware of the use that will be given to the data that is collected (advertising, sales to companies, etc.) and to know the rights that this data protection regulation grants.

The best smart toys

Are you looking for opinions and comparisons of smart toys? Would you like to see features and images of toys that make your decision easier? Do you want to get the perfect smart toy for you now? Then you’ve come to the right place.

On this page you can find a list of toys that we have prepared for you, made up of a selection of the ten best smart toys of 2020 and other products related to this type of toy.

Selection of the ten best smart toys
In the list below, you can see our selection of the top ten smart toys of 2020.

Using the links available on each of the toys on this list, you can see more details about them and purchase them if they have the features you are looking for. You can also read the comments and opinions left by users who have already tried these toys and see how they rate, as well as leave your own comments on the smart toys.

Remote Control Music Fashion Smart Remote Toy Car Key Remote Toy Analog Toy Sound Effects Car Without Battery 1pc, the cheapest smart toy ⭐

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If we look only at the price, this toy would undoubtedly be the one we would choose as it is the cheapest smart toy on this list.

You can get your already your toy Remote Control Music Fashion Smart Toy Remote Key Toy Car Analog Toy Sound Effects without battery blue 1pc for a price of 4.69 Do not miss this offer, as it is the cheapest of the smart toys.

Below are more details of this toy:

Gracelaza 30 Pieces Metal Wire Magic Toys Set

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One of the smartest toys you can find on the market is the Gracelaza 30 Pieces Metal Wire Magic Toys Set.

You can get this toy today at a price of 21.98

Below you can see a list of the features of the Gracelaza 30 Pieces Metal Wire Toy Set:

Below you can see a list of the features of the Gracelaza 30 Pieces Metal Wire Toy Set:

SUNNOW Robot Toy Intelligent Programming Gestures Control Robots Rechargeable Multifunctional Radio Control Robot

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If you still haven’t decided among all the smart toys, the SUNNOW Robot Toy Intelligent Programming Gestures Control Rechargeable Multifunctional Robot Radio Control may be the toy you’re looking for.

You can get this toy today at a price of 26.98 euros.

In the following list you can see the peculiarities of this toy:

ChennyFun 6 Colors Magic Small Ball Creative Magic Ball Cube Puzzle Decompression Ball Intelligent Development Gift Toys Ideal for Home Schooling Office

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If you still haven’t decided among all the smart toys, the ChennyFun 6 Color Magic Toy Small Magic Ball Magic Cube Puzzle Ball Decompression Smart Development Gift Toys Ideal for Home Schooling The Office may be the toy you’re looking for.

The price of this toy is 18.99

The list below shows the details of this toy:

Educational Wooden Puzzles Baby Toys

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The Wooden Educational Baby Toy Puzzle is one of the smartest toys available and may be the toy you are looking for.

This toy is priced at £14.99.

Below you can see a list of the features of the Wooden Baby Toy Educational Puzzle:

NEWYANG Toy Robot

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Below are the features of the NEWYANG Toy Robot, one of the smart toys.

Normally, this toy is priced at £25.98 but if you buy it now, you can get it for only £22.08. Don’t wait any longer and take advantage of this offer!

Below you can see more details of this toy:

Paochocky 8 Colors Magic Puzzle Toys Decompression Toys Intelligent Development Gift Toys Ideal for children and adults

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The Paochocky 8 Colors Magic Puzzle Toys Decompression Intelligent Development Gift Toys Ideal for children and adults is one of the smart toys you can buy. Below you can see more features that will help you decide if it is the type of toy you are looking for.

Buy now your Paochocky 8 Colors Magic Puzzle Toys Decompression Intelligent Development Gift Toys Ideal for children and adults for only $ 18.99

Here is a list of the features of the Paochocky 8 Colors Puzzle Toys Magic Decompression Toys Intelligent Development Gift Toys Ideal for children and adults:

EKKONG Wooden Block Puzzle Number Counting Board

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The EKKONG Wooden Block Puzzle Number Counting Board is one of the smartest toys you can buy. Below you can see more features that will help you decide if it is the type of toy you are looking for.

You can get your existing EKKONG Puzzle Wooden Blocks Number Counting Board toy for a price of £13.99.

In the following list you can see the peculiarities of this toy: