Parents should first test toys themselves / TÜV Rheinland test mark provides detailed information about tested features
App-controlled toys have been providing great fun in children’s rooms for several years – from classic board games to remote-controlled cars. To ensure that safety does not fall by the wayside with such networked toys, a few things should be taken into account when buying them: “More and more toys today offer additional features via smartphone apps. In order to use these networking features safely, data security is of paramount importance besides standard quality and safety features,” says Rainer Weiskirchen, toy expert at TÜV Rheinland.
Access rights are crucial
Always be careful when controlling toys from a smartphone using an app: doing so will open a potential gateway for hackers. Similar to so-called smart toys, which are themselves directly connected to the Internet, a meaningful data protection declaration from the manufacturer is also indispensable here. To prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access to the children’s room via camera or microphone, parents should read the declaration, especially with regard to possible access rights, and always protect the connections with a secure password. Parents should also set up the app connected to the toy themselves, test the toy and only then hand it over to the child.
Odor and visual inspection important
As with any form of toy, parents should focus their attention on mechanical and chemical safety in the case of networked toys as well. “It is advisable to carry out a visual and odor check on the products before buying them,” says Rainer Weiskirchen. Are there sharp edges? Do the toys rattle? If a toy emits a strong odor, you should be careful because it could contain harmful solvents. Due to possible small parts that small children could swallow, parents should also always check the age-approval of products.
Purchase from reputable sources
From the expert’s point of view, buying toys from established retailers is likewise important. “We advise against buying from largely unknown dealers who operate from abroad and sell exclusively via the Internet,” emphasizes Weiskirchen. In the case of face-to-face shops or established online shops, on the other hand, one could assume that the buyers and quality managers of the dealers themselves will take care of safety. The mandatory CE mark on the toys means that manufacturer and retailer can document that they comply with the European directives.
Test methods retrievable via QR code
According to Rainer Weiskirchen, parents are on the safe side when they decide on toys that carry the TÜV Rheinland test mark in addition to the CE mark. An integrated QR code and an ID number allow you to call up detailed information on the smartphone or other devices about exactly what TÜV Rheinland has tested and in what form.
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