Texas Tech University

It’s Not All Fun & Games – The Risks of WiFi-enabled Toys & Games

Parents need to be aware of the risks that come with WiFi-enabled toys and games. As with any WiFi or Internet connected device, hackers could possibly access your information through an unsecured WiFi connection or by accessing your account information stored in the cloud.

VTech, a company that makes WiFi-connected tablets, digital cameras, and online games for children, announced in late 2015 that hackers stole over 6.4 million children's profiles, including profile pictures, email addresses, passwords, and mailing address. Hackers also stole personal information from 4.9 million parent accounts.

Additionally, Mattel is introduced Hello Barbie for the 2015 holiday season - a Barbie doll with Siri-like capabilities that responds back to questions with sensible, appropriate answers. Mattel and ToyTalk, creators of Hello Barbie, have incorporated safety features into the doll that include a password-protected storage site where the child's dialogue is saved, as well as a secure connection between the doll and the cloud.

If your child has a WiFi-enabled toy or game, keep these tips in mind:

  • Know the features and WiFi functions of the toy;
  • Be aware of what information the toy/manufacturer collects about you and your child;
  • Set up the toy or game account with your child, demonstrate how to create a strong, unique password, and discuss the importance of passwords; (see tips on creating strong passwords)
  • Take advantage of all the security features offered by the manufacturer;
  • Enable the strongest security features on your home WiFi system; and
  • Guard your WiFi network password.