The world is becoming increasingly digital even for children. Several toys with children as their primary target now boast of several connectivity features including internet connectivity. Parents also buy non-children directed toys for their children. The jury is still out on whether or not it is a good idea to expose your children to the use of digital technologies from an early age. However, an even more immediate cause for concern is the safety of toys and devices that have an internet-connected technology. These devices can often come with little to no safety features and can easily be hacked into by strangers.
Several toys contain other technologies such as microphones, cameras, and other devices that could compromise the safety of the use of these devices, especially in security naïve children. These toys if used improperly could prove to be dangerous for the children. They could also result in data breaches for the parents as well. Find below a few safety standards for parents to adhere to if they have plans to give their children any of these devices.
Verify the Security of a Product Before Purchase
The internet is a double-edged sword that you should wield appropriately when purchasing a toy for your child. Chances are if you do enough research you will be able to find out if a toy you intend to buy is safe enough for your child and find out what measures you can take to ensure maximum security. Scour the internet for online reviews, browse manufacturers’ websites before you commit to purchasing a toy or device for your child. You will often find whatever information you seek if you do your homework properly. Also, check to see if the manufacturers have plans to update the device in the event of a data breach.
Explore the Toy or Device Before you Hand it over
Take all the time you need to get to understand how the device or toy works before giving it to your child. Read the manuals and find out about the security or privacy features that the device has. Make sure you set it up and that it’s working as it was intended to before you hand it over. Don’t hand a child a device straight out of the box before you’ve had the chance to explore it yourself.
Change Default Username and Passwords
Even if you feel certain features won’t be needed, take the time to change the default usernames and password to one that is strong enough. Don’t forget that standard safety consists of using a different password for each device or account. If for any reason the default username and password cannot be changed, you should consider returning the device.
Confirm that your internet router is secure
If your child is going to be connecting to the internet via your router then you need to be very certain that your internet router is secure. Make sure that you can control when your child is connected to the internet so that you can adequately monitor their internet usage. Create a strong password for your router and install security updates as soon as they become available. Bluetooth is another point of access that should be taken care of. Unsecured Bluetooth connections mean that strangers can have access to your child’s device.
Mic, Camera – Take Action
If the toy or device has a mic and camera then you need to take extra care. While being able to view the device remotely is an advantage, it can also be a weakness in your use of the device. Recent occurrences involving the hacking of baby monitors demonstrate this. If you have no need of this remote viewing capability then keep it turned off and if you must use it, then make sure your password is strong.
Be Careful of Location
Many children’s smartwatches have GPS for parents to know where their children are at all times. This is important but it is even more important to secure your child’s location information so that no one else can have access to this very important bit of information. Do not use the default location tracking settings but instead set up your own and include a strong password.
Knowledge is Power
If your child is old enough then it is your responsibility to teach them about the safe use of these devices. Children should be made aware of their privacy rights and let them know how to identify intrusions. Also, encourage them to report any suspicious activity to you.
In conclusion, if you have doubts about whether or not a device can provide complete security for your child, then you shouldn’t purchase the device. It is always better to err on the side of caution.