Life Tech eSafety Commissioner warns parents about ‘smart’ Christmas gifts

eSafety Commissioner warns parents about ‘smart’ Christmas gifts

The sheer variety of connected toy robots have come a long way since last year's launch of Sphero's Star Wars line. Photo: Getty
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Australia’s eSafety commissioner is warning parents to be vigilant about introducing “smart toys” into the family home this Christmas.

Julie Inman Grant says while internet-connected toys can offer many benefits through interactive play and education, it’s important that parents be aware of potential privacy and security risks.

The comments come after a recent poll suggested Australian parents are divided about buying their children web-enabled Christmas gifts.

“Ultimately, parents are the frontline of defence against any risk their children can be exposed to online, so remaining engaged in their online lives just as they are offline is integral,” Ms Inman Grant said.

The eSafety commissioner suggested parents check how devices store and use kids’ information, set strong passwords to secure accounts, and refrain from linking their location or sensitive data with others.

Users should also install the latest security and software updates and manually deactivate unnecessary functions like recording capabilities, Ms Inman Grant said.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Photo: AAP

A recent poll of 1035 Australian parents suggested half were planning to buy smart devices and toys for kids this Christmas.

At the same time, the poll commissioned by Norton said 50 per cent of parents were set to ask friends and relatives to not buy such devices for their children.

Sydney parents Simone and Graham Kirkwood have taken a different approach by teaching their family of seven about smart use of smart devices.

Using a phone app connected to the family’s wi-fi router, Mr Kirkwood can switch off all access to social media during dinner time and set daily time limits for certain sites.

He said the rules were especially effective with his youngest two children.

“Especially coming into summer, this is the perfect opportunity to get them off it,” he told AAP.

“You can train them and then they won’t be so reliant on it.”

The eSafety office has recently released a Christmas gift guide to help parents learn how to pick secure tech gifts.