TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Toy purchases in the U.S. surge around the holidays, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) has seven things that parents and toy givers should be aware of when purchasing toys for their children.
According to the U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that there were about 198,000 toy related injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2020.
Toys sold at traditional retail stores are required to have a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC), that designates that the toy follows all federal safety standards for children, but many online websites that act as a middleman between the customer and seller do not follow the same rules.
The 36th annual Trouble in Toyland report highlights seven toy safety issues to help lower the risk of toy related accidents:
1. Knockoff toys
Counterfeit toys are often identical to the product that they claim to be and are aimed at holiday shoppers. This can pose safety risks for the children that receive these toys. Websites that serve as a third party for sales can sometimes advertise these knockoffs and be unaware. The bottom line is that if the toys were not properly tested they could present hazards to the children. Toxic content, fire hazards, small parts, etc.
2. Second-hand toys
Toys that are up for resale on places like Facebook marketplace or eBay should be researched properly to avoid purchasing a toy that has been previously recalled. Shoppers can visit saferproducts.gov to find out about any previous recalls.
3. Ingestion risks
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that the ingestion rate of batteries has increased since 2017. In August, the CPSC recalled 10 million units of Zen Magnets and Neoball magnets after two children had extensive surgery to remove them from their intestines. These high powered magnets have a stronger magnetic force than regular magnets and pose a serious risk. If ingested, two or more magnets can attach to parts of the digestive tract and create holes. Coin or button batteries can also cause damage, like burns inside the body if ingested.
4. Choking hazards
Small parts on toys are one of the biggest dangers for young children because they pose a choking hazard. Toys that are meant for children ages three to six will have a small parts warning label if it contains small parts. Toys for children younger than three cannot include small parts. When searching for toys online by age group, toys that are not approved for younger ages may still appear in the search, so parents should double check when looking online. Parents and caregivers should always use discretion when allowing young children to play with toys that could be too small to be safe.
5. Noisy toys
Children as young as one-year-old could have threats to their hearing from loud toys. Four of the five toys tested by the U.S. PIRG registered at potentially unsafe noise levels. Experts say that it does matter where the toy is held in contrast to the child’s ears.
6. Smart toys
Smart toys like those with Bluetooth capabilities can be great gifts for children, but they increase the risks of data being collected on a child. Toys that collect personal information on children younger than 13-years-old should have a notice about their privacy practices for parents and give them the right to have their child’s personal information deleted. U.S. PIRG recommends that toys that require an account registration have a strong password set up by a parent.
7. Game consoles
Game consoles are often popular around the holidays, but certain games or programs could expose the children to inappropriate content or things that are not suitable for their age group. Parental controls can limit who the children interact with online and some have controls and access to online chats and money that can be spent online.
U.S. PIRG recommends that parents do their research on toys for children of all ages to ensure that they are protected from the potential problems listed above.