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Holiday Warning for Maine Parents: Toys Collecting Internet Data on Children

A new report warns parents about putting toys under the tree that could collect online data about young children as they play. (Kelvin Kay/Wikimedia)
A new report warns parents about putting toys under the tree that could collect online data about young children as they play. (Kelvin Kay/Wikimedia)
December 12, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine -- A new report from a consumer watchdog group has some tips for holiday shoppers who want to avoid toys that collect internet data on kids, as well as those that pose other concerns.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood executive director Josh Golin said the group's 2016 report offers some safeguards when purchasing toys for children. He said the report shines a spotlight on toys that effectively spy on children via the web.

"We try and look at some of the troubling trends that happen in the toy industry - whether it's trying to connect toys to the internet so that the toys are collecting data from children; or whether it's marketing violence to children, or precocious sexuality,” Golin said.

Consumer groups have filed a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that some toys now on the market are spying on kids, threatening their privacy and security. According to published reports and federal filings, Genesis and Nuance are the two companies named in the complaint. Neither has responded to a request for comment.

Shoppers play a major role in determining which toy gets the group's TOADY award, given to products deemed the most “oppressive and destructive” to children. And for 2016, consumers singled out a toy called "Lulu's 11-Piece Makeup Set" by Pink Fizz for the negative review.

"Which is marketed for children as young as three, and encourages very young children to play at being much more mature than they actually are and focus on their appearance,” Golin explained. "And to make things even worse, the makeup itself contains chemicals which may be toxic."

A full list of the 2016 TOADY nominees is available at commercialfreechildhood.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME