What are internet connected devices?
Many families have internet connected devices for their child or home. Internet connected devices are devices or toys that are connected to the internet via WiFi, Bluetooth or a physical connection like a USB cable. They can also be connected to each other.
Internet connected devices can send and receive data, respond to voice commands and be controlled remotely using a smartphone app. They can also be called ‘the internet of things’.
More and more things are becoming connected to the internet. As well as computers and mobile phones, there are:
- smart speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo
- wearables, such as Fitbit and Apple Watch
- smart meters measuring household energy consumption
- toys with voice or image recognition, such as Hello Barbie™ and Furby Connect
- robots, drones and other mechanical toys, controlled via an app, such as Dash and Dot
- smart TVs
- smart appliances
- smart doorbells.
What are the risks of internet connected devices?
Internet connected devices can have similar risks to devices like smartphones and tablets. These can be more likely to happen if the devices aren't set up properly.
Some of the risks of using internet connected devices are:
- other people might be able to access the device and content without you knowing such as a child’s GPS activity tracker
- you may not be able to see that someone's connected to your device, but sometimes developers or hackers can see your content
- baby monitors, children's tablets and even remote-control helicopters or drone toys, can be hacked and used by people outside of your home
- internet connected devices can collect personal data, including audio and visual data.
Tips for keeping your family safe
Research the toy and read product reviews and parent blogs. This can help you decide if they're suitable for your family.
It's also important to check which devices have internet. Many devices now have internet access, not just phones and computers. Anything that can communicate or provide information will need the internet, so check this on your device or toy before using it.
It's important to read the instruction manual to see the detail of what the device is, what it does and how to set it up safely.
Default settings might include things like GPS location tracking, public WiFi and camera or chat access. It's important to turn these off so your child can't be identified. Always check device privacy settings and make sure they're switched on.
You need to download an app to use most internet-connected toys or devices. Check the privacy settings and permissions of any apps or products you download.
Make sure that passwords are strong and you don’t use the same password for multiple devices or accounts. Remember that children shouldn’t have access to passwords used to change settings on internet connected devices.
Your home WiFi network and TV settings should be password protected. Think about setting up accounts for your children so they’re only seeing age-appropriate content. For example, on TV streaming services like Netflix.
Lots of people have old phones and devices that they don't use anymore. If it's not been used for months make sure you turn it off, so that it's not collecting any personal data. For any devices that you aren’t going to use again, find out how to clear your personal data from the device.
Do you work or volunteer with children or families?
Visit NSPCC Learning to find information and resources for teaching children about online safety and social media.