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Trouble in Toyland: Child Security and Misleading Labels Top Concerns

My Friend Cayla is advertised as the world's first interactive doll, but a security loophole has drawn some concern, including from the FBI. (USPIRG)
My Friend Cayla is advertised as the world's first interactive doll, but a security loophole has drawn some concern, including from the FBI. (USPIRG)
November 24, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. -- This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you may want to take the time to read labels and carefully consider toys you buy for the children in your life.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released its Trouble in Toyland report this week, and while concerns over small parts or lead can place toys on the list, technology creates new concerns.

The doll My Friend Cayla is on the list. It has Bluetooth capability that NC PIRG's Kristen Carver said is cause for concern.

"Your child can ask it questions and it talks back to you,” Carver said. "It has an unsecured bluetooth connection. Anybody can really access it and could potentially listen in on things that are going on in your home."

The FBI recently issued a warning against toys that include unsecured technology, and the doll is banned in Germany. The company has insisted in public statements that the doll is safe.

PIRG also found high amounts of lead in fidget spinners sold at Target. The retailer has since removed those from its shelves.

Carver said there were also problems with toys found in dollar stores that had conflicting information on their packaging.

"They had misleading labels,” she said. "So they had labels that said they're not for children under eight, however they also had a three-plus label.”

Magnets and button batteries present extra concerns as choking hazards, since they can cause severe damage to a child's digestive system and take extra time to be discovered in their bodies.

To make sure smaller toys don't present a choking hazard to young children, Carver recommended testing it out with a toilet paper roll. If the toy fits inside the roll, it could get lodged in a child's throat.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC