Smart Toys and How they May be Invading our Privacy

20 Oct , 2021

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While smart toys can be useful educational tools for children, they also present some potential privacy risks and could invade what is traditionally considered a private space. Think about it—the thought of your child’s toy listening in on your family 24/7/365 is disturbing. So how do we balance these risks with the benefits? Smart toys that are made with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities can collect different forms of data from children. For example, an AI-enabled toy may collect data to enable it to personalize lessons on how fast your child constructs a shape on the device or a doll may know your child’s favorite color or song so that it can “converse” with your child during playtime. While there are regulations to protect children’s privacy and data collected from minors (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)) on the internet and through mobile applications by requiring prior express written consent from a parent or guardian, new smart devices hitting the market are not necessarily complying with COPPA according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Whether we like it or not, smart toys and AI capabilities will only continue to grow. AI can in fact be helpful and effective in aiding children’s learning and experiences. However, we may need to examine this trend now (and the legislation related to these smart toys) to stay ahead of some of the big issues that could arise if this space is not adequately regulated and monitored.

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