Kid #friendly #digi toys could pose #cyber threat, #Deakin University #research shows

WHILE the dangers of sharing personal information through smart phone apps is “drummed into teenagers by parents”, toys-to-life figurines are encouraging young children to develop a far more relaxed attitude to data sharing, new research suggests.

Deakin University academic Thomas Apperley has investigated how toys-to-life figurines influence the way children understand data security.

The popular figurines, created by leading companies like Nintendo and Lego, are physical toys that are brought to life with compatible video games that enable players able to interact with the characters.

Dr Apperley’s research analysed popular contemporary toys-to-life gadgets and figurines including Lego Dimensions and the Ozmo app and was supplemented by detailed examination of the promotional materials for the toys, including print and video sources.

Dr Apperley said with the ‘internet of Toys’ a fast growing phenomenon, the ways children interact with toys is changing and therefore requires careful consideration from parents and educators.

“Many people are familiar with limiting screen time, however, it is even more important that parents and other responsible adults talk to children about what they are doing with those screens, including when playing games,” Dr Apperley said.

He said parents needed to speak their children to ensure they were in control of their data-sharing.

“The safety impact of sharing intimate details over smart phones is drummed into teenagers by parents and teachers, yet toys-to-life figurines tell young people a surprisingly different story, that sharing data is fun and that it improves their experience of the device,” Dr Apperley said.

“The study indicates that we need to better understand what toys that involve the transfer of data between

devices teach children and young people about how to value data and when to collect and share it,” Dr Apperley said.

“The data transfer takes place in a playful environment, characterised by trusted iconic figures, and choosing to use the toys-to-life figurines in this way instantly creates multiple small rewards.”

These findings are part of a larger Australian Research Council funded study between Deakin and the University of Melbourne which examines the impact of video game characters on everyday computer use.