Connected toys are giving parents the heebie jeebies, but are their fears warranted?
In a rush to copy or build upon the newest Operating System Amazon Echo, many of the huge toy brands like Pearson, Disney, Nuance, and Mattel are being connected to the internet. Some dolls in particular have parents worried about just how much data and information these types of toys are learning about their kids, and how much they are apparently spying on them.
While on the surface of things, it may just look like nothing but a plush toy with a walkie talkie and a recorder attached to it. To proponents of the idea, it’s a cute way to keep kids engaged. Gone are the days when your parents would tell you to go out and play make believe outside. These toys give a whole new meaning to make believe. Giving kids new storylines that they might not have ever thought of before using technology to keep them engaged for hours on end.
The new players in this space are raising money like crazy and I am beginning to see parallels to App Age, where in 2008 if you had an idea for an app, you could go to any Venture Capital firm in the country and get money for it, connected toys are all the rage these days in Silicon Valley. Yet it’s hard to see how, this untapped potential for brand names to create fresh new worlds and franchises in an effort to raise Millions doesn’t end in a shady way to get access to children which seems straight out of a movie thriller, and it could get even worse than that…
Parents worry it’s actually a hacktivist horror movie waiting to happen. In Germany, the government there has banished a connected doll called My Friend Cayla, for being a spying device. While new parents have to come to terms with this new level of paranoia. Even Google Home and Amazon Echo could be great for childhood education and toys, but that’s not to say it can’t be corrupted. A few months ago, the police in Arkansas, wanted the data from Amazon Alexa to prove a murder case, and blogs exploded because nobody really knows how much the Echo is spying on us! It is still unclear how much of this data IOT devices are collecting about us. They can be described as an automatic opt-in device for these companies to spy on us, because there are hardly any agreements or privacy warnings to agree to when buying these devices.
So does it all come down to who you want to trust inside your home, or is this just another aspect of technology people really don’t even understand? That these toys really are innocent and that these claims of spying are completely unfounded?