6 Most dangerous children's online games, apps and smart toys you must avoid
There are some online games, apps and smart toys that can expose your precious child to all sorts of dangers such as falling prey to paedophiles, being cyber-bullied, encouraged to self-inflict harm, or even pushed to suicide
Remember when you were a kid and you would play games with your friends like hide and seek, tag, or climb trees, catch insects and just cycle around the neighbourhood?
Your toys would mostly consist of stuffed animals, action figures, skipping ropes, footballs, hula-hoops and you also had a mini library of story books.
Modern technology has introduced a whole new world of interactive games and smart toys that can walk and talk, so the generation of kids nowadays are quite familiar with touch-screens and keyboards.
It's difficult to completely avoid exposing your little ones to screen time, or to shield them from all these fancy new gadgets -- and you must also admit that sometimes it is sort of a life-saver for you after a long day and you just need a few minutes to yourself!
But are all these online games, apps and smart toys for children and youths really all that innocent?
Here's a list of the top six dangerous children's games and toys you should definitely be crossing off the list and keeping far away from your precious kids!
What is it?: This online gaming platform is popular with kids, teens and even adults, which allows users to interact with one another in this virtual world, play games and also engage in role play.
The dangers to your child: The game's chat feature allows online predators such as paedophiles to communicate with your child and send him sexually explicit messages.
When Iain Morrison decided to play this game which was popular with his two young sons, he was shocked to discover that there were adults who were complete strangers sending him messages online.
"They said ‘hi’ so I said ‘hi’ and they asked if I was a boy or girl and my age so I said I was an eight-year-old boy. They asked me to follow them to their [virtual] house, then into the bedroom and asked me to lay down on top of them and then they started with the sexual movements. They said ‘you look cute’ and ‘you look sexy’. It was sickening reading all the comments pop up. My kids were completely oblivious as to what the words and stuff meant. It’s full of f**king paedophiles if you ask me it’s completely messed up its turned my guts, anyways it’s deleted off their computers forever and I’d highly recommend you check your kids to see if they have it and get rid of it”, he warns other parents.
2. My Friend Cayla
What is it?: This smart toy looks like an innocent baby doll with pretty features, lovely hair, a sweet smile, and an equally adorable outfit.
It is so smart that it can even talk to your kid and ask her personal questions.
The dangers to your child: Regulators in Germany have classified the Cayla dolls which are equipped with built-in microphones as "hidden espionage devices" and are even urging parents to destroy this toy!
They caution parents that this doll will be able to steal your child's information and also any other details about you and your family that she might share with her toy.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has also stated that this smart toy "violates privacy rules [by] recording conversations and transmitting audio files to a remote server without parental consent."
3. Blue Whale
What is it?: This social media game dares its players to also participate in a series of tasks which are detrimental to their health and can also cause them great harm.
The dangers to your child: As each "level" progresses, it gets increasingly dangerous.
Examples of the various "tasks" assigned include:
- Waking up at 4.20am
- Watching horror movies all day long
- Cutting yourself with knives or razors
- Carving words or symbols (such as a blue whale) onto your own body
At the highest and final level of the game, your child will be instructed to commit suicide.
Some teen deaths have already been linked to this disturbing online game when youths in Russia jumped to their deaths either from high-rise buildings or in front of oncoming trains.
4. Fire Fairy
What is it?: This online prank targets younger children and is modelled after the animated series, Winx Club.
It gives dangerous instructions to unsuspecting kids on how they can become a magical "fire fairy".
The dangers to your child: Your little one will be encouraged to secretly turn on the gas on the stove at midnight when no one else is awake, and then go back to sleep.
Some of the instructions say, "The magic gas will come to you, you will breathe it while sleeping and in the morning, when you wake up, say 'Thank you Alfeya, I’ve become a fairy'. And you will become a real fairy of fire."
A five-year-old girl has already fallen victim to this horrific game and suffered severe burns to her body when she thought she could be turned into a "fire fairy" as promised online.
5. Cloud Pets
What is it?: These innocent-looking smart toys which come as a cuddly elephant, bear, cat, rabbit, dog or unicorn can record audio messages via a mobile app and replay them for your child's entertainment.
The dangers to your child: Application security expert, Troy Hunt, reported that private information from the CloudPets database has been leaked and not only did it contain audio messages by its users, but their profile pictures and privacy were also compromised.
The private messages sent between you and your child can also be hacked, as well as your passwords and emails!
Parents should be wary of this smart toy because private information and your little one's pictures that fall in the wrong hands can be used in a negative way.
6. The Letter X
What is it?: The latest trend on the online app, Snapchat, is called "The Letter X", where users will target someone by coming up with hurtful insults about their physical appearance, weight or personality.
When Rachaele Hambleton's 12-year-old daughter confided in her about this horrible new game, she wrote a personal message on social media and shared it with other parents:
"I just want to raise awareness because so many mums wouldn’t know about this sort of thing. There’s so much peer pressure out there. Bullying is just endless now because of mobile phones", she says.
This article is republished with permission from theAsianparent.
Do your kids play these games, have these apps downloaded or own these smart toys? Is there anything else we should add to this list? Let us know by leaving your comments below!