The days are over when the biggest concern we had was whether or not our kids hurt each other with Nerf guns. Now, between The MoMo Challenge and suicide instructions being found in YouTube videos, times have changed and so have the dangers.
And I wish I could say I have something better to share with you but there is a new threat emerging – Predators Spying On Kids Through Popular Toys and we have everything you need to know to keep your kids safe.
Predators Spying On Kids Through Popular Toys
In this day and age, technology surrounds us and seems to be part of everything we do. Including our kids “smart toys”.
While a “smart toy” seems fun, engaging and well, smart, it’s also extremely dangerous.
Not sure what I am talking about?
Well, let me share with you….
Smart toys are also known as IOT Toys (internet of things toys). These toys typically require account registration and a connection to the internet of some sort and in return, leaving your child vulnerable to predators.
Predators are able to track your child’s location, record activity recorded and potentially exploit that personal information.
And that’s not all…
Hackers are increasingly targeting companies such as; CloudPets, Hello Barbie and VTech. Some of the information gained in such breaches includes voice recordings, users’ system information, Wi-Fi network names, internal MAC addresses, account IDs, and even MP3 files. Cybercriminals also were able to access parent accounts including names, email addresses, secret questions and answers for passwords, IP addresses, mailing addresses and download histories.
Toys such as Hatchimals, Teddy Ruxpin, Droids (think BB-8 from Star Wars) and Hello Barbie are just a few that are being used for this purpose. Heck, even my son’s drone requires an account and has a camera and recording features.
Even handheld gaming systems and game consoles are to blame. They all require internet access, registration and personal information.
Hackers can even access toys to use them to send messages to your children such as self-harm instructions, saying inappropriate things and even exploiting them to sexual suggestions.
While an obvious fix may be to refrain from purchasing these toys or getting rid of them all together, it’s not exactly a reasonable fix.
Kids love these toys and the toys can offer many benefits such as teaching your kids how to read, write, count, learn about technology and even teach coding skills. They are engaging, fun and expand their creativity.
So, what can you do to protect your child?
Here are a few tips:
- Disable access to the permissions that can compromise your privacy within an app. If you don’t know how, Google it.
- Double-Check the Parental Controls and put them on the strictest one possible.
- Use a fake/alternate address from the one you live at. A P.O. box is super cheap to rent and can be a great address to register accounts like this with.
- Change the password and possibly, change it frequently.
- Teach your kids not to give sensitive information to toy providers (and monitor the set up!)
- Disable location services within an app.
- Mute any microphones and block any webcams.
- Don’t use integration with Alexa, Siri, Google, etc.
- Update the firmware regularly.
- Disable In-App Purchases.
- Always monitor your child’s activity with all toys and anything that connects them online.
We are confident that if you can utilize the tips above, you can help protect your children from online predators and hackers. That means, more safe fun for you and your children.