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Holiday Shoppers Beware: Toys that Scoop Up Internet Data on Kids and More

Caution is the byword for the toys Bay Staters put under their tree. A new report cautions against toys that could spy on young children on the Internet. (Mike Clifford)
Caution is the byword for the toys Bay Staters put under their tree. A new report cautions against toys that could spy on young children on the Internet. (Mike Clifford)
December 7, 2016

BOSTON – A new report from a New England consumer watchdog group has some tips for holiday shoppers who want to avoid toys that collect internet data on kids and more.

Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said its 2016 report offers consumer safeguards when purchasing a toy for a child. He said the report shines a spotlight on toys that, in effect, spy on very young children on the Web.

"We try to look at some of the troubling trends that are happening in the toy industry; whether it's connecting toys to the Internet so the toys are collecting data from children, or whether it's marketing violence to children, or precocious sexuality," he explained.

On Tuesday, consumer groups filed a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that some toys now on the market are spying on kids and threatening their privacy and security. According to published reports and federal filings, Genesis and Nuance are the two companies named in the complaint, and they did not respond to a request for comment.

Golin said shoppers play a major role in determining which toy gets the group's TOADY award, 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 out being much more mature than they actually are and focus on their appearance," he said. "And to make things even worse, the makeup itself contains chemicals which may be toxic."

The TOADY awards were created to shine a spotlight on Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA