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Toys that Spy on Kids? It's Real

Kids love toys, but parents and consumer watchdog groups don't love that some toys can collect online data about them. (Brad Robinson)
Kids love toys, but parents and consumer watchdog groups don't love that some toys can collect online data about them. (Brad Robinson)
December 12, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — 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 and more.

Josh Golin, executive director at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, 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 a precocious sexuality,” Golin said.

Consumer groups have filed a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that some toys now on the market threaten a child's 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 receives the group's TOADY award, given to products deemed the most “oppressive and destructive” to children. And for 2016, they singled out a toy called "Lulu's 11-Piece Makeup Set" by Pink Fizz.

"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.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO