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The Internet of Toys

While the Internet of Things is bringing exciting new developments into families' homes, these new toys are uncovering old school privacy concerns, too.

Connected devices are aimed at younger and younger audiences, with booties that monitor a baby's breathing and Fitbit-like smartwatches that track the physical fitness and geolocation of toddlers. The Internet of things (IoT) and smart devices can bring many conveniences -- and sometimes a sense of wonder -- to daily life. IoT also raises old privacy and educational concerns and uncovers many new ones.

Innovative toy and device makers often seem less focused on privacy and security than on developing the newest hit gadget. And claims about the educational value of toys, which can be very difficult for parents and caregivers to understand in general, are particularly difficult to assess with connected devices promising the benefits of the latest technology.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is currently studying the benefits and challenges of IoT. Common Sense Kids Action filed comments with them this week, highlighting the need for government policymakers and others to further research the privacy, security, and broader policy concerns IoT raises for kids and families and to develop comprehensive guidelines in this space. To read our comments, click here.

Ariel Fox Johnson
Ariel Fox Johnson is Senior Counsel for Global Policy at Common Sense Media, where she advocates for smart practices, policies, and rules to help all kids thrive in today’s wired world. Her work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world. She frequently advises policymakers, industry, and tech experts, and has helped develop laws on student privacy, consumer privacy, and the Internet of Things. Ariel is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School. Prior to joining Common Sense, Ariel worked on privacy, media, intellectual property, and technology matters at corporate law firms, and provided pro bono assistance to nonprofits and asylum seekers.