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Hazards to watch for in toy shopping

By Stephanie Carson • Updated Dec 16, 2017 at 7:00 PM

NASHVILLE – Before ordering Santa’s sack of toys, make a list and check it twice against the new “Trouble in Toyland” report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. 

This year, the list of toy safety hazards contains some of the usual concerns over small parts and lead content, but technology provides a new concern. 

The doll, My Friend Cayla, is on the list. It has Bluetooth capability that Kristen Carver, a campus organizer for PIRG, said is cause for concern. 

“Your child can ask it questions and it talks back to you,” she said. “It has an unsecured Bluetooth connection. Anybody could really access it and could potentially listen in on things that are going on in your home.”

The FBI recently issued a warning against toys that include unsecured technology, and the doll is banned in Germany. 

The company has insisted in public statements the doll is safe. 

PIRG also found high levels of lead in some fidget spinners sold at Target, although the retailer said it has removed those toys from its shelves.

Carver cited problems with toys found in other stores that had conflicting information on their packaging.

“They had misleading labels,” she said. “So, they had labels that said they’re not for children under 8. However, they also had a 3 plus label.”

Carver said magnets and button batteries present extra concerns as choking hazards, since they can cause severe damage to a child’s digestive system and take extra time to be discovered in their bodies. 

To make sure smaller toys don’t present choking hazards to young children, Carver recommended using a toilet paper roll. Any toy or part that fits inside the roll could get lodged in a child’s throat.

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