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Internet-connected toys can expose kids to dangers, BBB says

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Toys are increasingly connected to the internet, exposing kids to some of the dangers of digital technologies.

More and more toys on the market are incorporating digital technology, like these examples from the Better Business Bureau: Hello Barbie and My Friend Cayla.

“A lot of times technology is a great thing, but there’s always going to be someone out there who gets the technology and uses it for something that is bad,” said Tim Mansicalo, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana.

Maniscalo wants to warn parents before they give these kinds of toys as gifts this holiday season.

“In this information age, the more information I have about you, the more information I have about your child. I can do things like target you with certain information about advertising, or if the scammer has that, they can use that against you,” he said.

Hackers can use connected toys for much scarier things than scams. Cyber security expert Jason Ortiz with Pondurance says many things with two-way communication, like video, can be hacked.

“Even if it’s not being collected by the manufacturer, it’s incredibly vulnerable,” said Ortiz. “This is true with baby monitors; I think that’s well-publicized at this point. There’s a website that you can literally see all the connected baby monitors and watch the videos live because there’s no security implemented on them whatsoever.”

However, there are laws to protect you, your personal information and your child—just check the privacy policy associated with the toy.

“That privacy policy does give the parents the ability to not provide that information or to make certain how that information is used, where it is stored, if that information is going to be passed on to someone else,” said Maniscalo.

When everything from toys and phones to cars and appliances are connected to the internet, the need for security becomes more of a concern. 

“As these toys become more prevalent, if security’s not implemented from the start, then we’re going to see more and more instances like that,” said Ortiz.

Maniscalo says the BBB has seen these high-tech toys used to collect personal information to use in other scams. For instance, if they know enough about you and your family, they scam other family members into giving them money by using specific information about your family to trick them.