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Tips for Choosing Cyber-Safe Toys

As the holiday season approaches and children build their wish lists, smart toys may be at the top.

In fact, by 2027, the smart toy market is expected to exceed $24 billion.

You may not have thought about it, but internet-connected toys typically have a built-in microphone and speaker and can potentially expose children and others in their household to data or identity theft.

How Smart are Smart Toys?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, smart toys run the risk of being accessed by criminals, just like any smart device.

So, while they are educational and fun for kids, do a little research first to help bring some peace of mind. Check out our TikTok for more on that!

What should you know about the toy? 

  • Conduct a quick internet search. Look for any articles or complaints regarding security or privacy issues. Using terms such as “toy name” + “privacy” will yield results.
  • Research security updates by searching “toy name” + “firmware” or “software” update. See what results pop up and if there’s an option to update the software or information about released updates. Without this page, the company might not issue regular software updates, which could leave it vulnerable to security breaches.
  • See what watchdog and safe harbor groups have to say. Reviews and recommendations are common for children’s toys.

What features should you understand?

  • Know what the microphone and speaker will be doing within the toy. Does it communicate back to the child and answer questions? Does it record? How long does it hold onto a recording? Be cautious about the data provided. It is essential to carefully review the terms, conditions and privacy policies to understand how the data collected will be used and protected.
  • Determine the usage of Bluetooth on the toy. What does the Bluetooth connection do? Is there a PIN associated with it? Without a PIN, the Bluetooth connection can be accessed by anyone and monitored to find vulnerabilities. With a PIN, the connection is essentially locked, and other devices cannot access it.
  • Understand what data is being accessed by the pairable app. Does it need access to an email or credit card? Does it connect to social media accounts? Does it require access to the photo gallery?
  • Look for parental controls. Are there parental controls within the app or toy? How can a parent manage data and its use?

Add Some Extra Protection

At ERIE, there’s a coverage to help people recover from identity theft should it ever occur in your home.

Parents can add Identity Theft Recovery coverage to their homeowners or renters policy as an additional precaution.

“With Erie Insurance’s Identity Theft Recovery coverage, a customer would have access to their very own case manager who can help them take care of the many time-consuming tasks that have to be done to restore a person’s credit following identity theft, such as contacting credit bureaus and writing letters to governmental bodies like the Social Security Administration,” said Michelle Tennant, ERIE’s vice president of Home Products. “The coverage also pays some of the costs associated with identity theft, which may include not only lost wages but also filing fees for reapplying for loans or other types of credit, certain legal fees and more.”

Talk with us to find out more about the specific benefits of our Identity Theft Recovery coverage, which is included with any of the ErieSecure® homeowners bundles.

Want more information on what to be aware of with smart toys? Check out our infographic below.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.