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Giving kids smartwatches might not be too smart

(TECH NEWS) If you’re trying to teach your kid about stranger danger, giving them smartwatches won’t help the lesson.

smartwatches
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All of these smart devices are not exactly the smartest choice when it comes to privacy. This is especially true for protecting your children. A new report from the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) and European Security firm Mnemonic tested just how safe smart watches are, and the results are unsettling.

The report, appropriately and almost embarrassingly titled “#WatchOut,” details analysis of 4 different types of smart watches from Gator, Tindell, Viksfjord and Xplora.

All of these watches have been marketed to consumers as a way to protect children. Some come with an SOS button and alert parents when their children go beyond certain boundaries. Unfortunately the report found that these features are unreliable.

In addition, two of the smartwatches were found to be vulnerable to hackers. If successful, hackers could remotely control the watches giving them access to location, personal information and even the ability to communicate through the device.

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Even scarier, expert hackers would be able to listen to surroundings through the watch.

As researchers took a closer look at the smart device app permissions, they found that only one of them allows parents to opt out of data collection. Xplora explicitly states that they give data to marketers, which might be something that parents overlook.

Most people permit apps to collect and share data without a second thought.

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) has adamantly opposed smart watches targeted towards children until these flaws are corrected. They ran a public service announcement warning against using the devices because of their failure to provide adequate security.

Ideally, BEUC wants to create mandatory regulations for companies to adhere to, to prevent future hacks. One member even said that smart watches that choose not to comply should be withdrawn from the market.

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Flawed as they may be, these smartwatches are not the only vulnerable device putting children’s lives at risk. Mattel had to pull one of the newest Barbie dolls off of the shelves after realizing that the mic, once hacked, turned into a recording device in a child’s bedroom.

Regardless of the technological advantages of smart devices, it’s best to think twice before buying them for children.

Written By

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

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