McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law
child internet connected device

Everywhere you look more and more children are carrying around internet enabled devices. In fact, a University of Iowa study found that 90% of kids under age 2 had a moderate ability to use a tablet; but phones and tablets aren’t the only devices to be worried about. Toys featuring internet connectivity are also on the rise, presenting more connected options for playtime.

Smart devices can be great gadgets for children to have as it can increase learning opportunities and interactivity, but they also pose a privacy risk.

What’s at risk?

A breach in this technology can result in information being collected about your child. This can include:

  • Age
  • Birthdate
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Chat history

Parent information may also be linked to these devices and at risk of collection. Including:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Credit card information
  • Account passwords

This information can be collected either through the forms filled out by users to create an account, interaction with the toy or connection to a Wi-Fi or cellular network.

There have been several data breaches in the past, including that of CloudPets, Vtech, Hello Barbie, and more.

How You Can Prevent a Breach

Be sure to carefully read all of the information that comes with a toy that has internet connectivity to be sure you disable any unnecessary features. This is also pertinent to be sure you understand what information is being gathered and how it is being used.

In order to safeguard your child and their information, you should set up any connected toys with very strong passwords and inform you child about what should and should not be shared online.

Laws to Prevent Privacy Issues

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a law created to protect the privacy of children under 13. The Act specifies:

  • Sites must require parental consent for the collection or use of any personal information of underage site users.
  • Inclusions in the privacy policy, including that the policy itself be posted anywhere data is collected.
  • When and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian.
  • What responsibilities the operator of a website legally holds with regards to children’s privacy and safety online, including restrictions on the types and methods of marketing targeting those under 13.

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