YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Some things have clearly improved since the first “Trouble in Toyland” report in 1986. Until 1994, for example, the annual report named and shamed toys that could never exist today. hui, because they became illegal when the Child Safety Protection Act (CSPA) came into effect in 1995.
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On the other hand, in 1994, no one had to worry about accidentally buying a recalled toy on eBay. Plus, no one had to worry about a stranger requisitioning a child’s karaoke machine – wireless, from outside the house – and replacing the child’s music with an explicit or dangerous message. .
Indeed, these potential dangers were among others listed in the 36th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, which an advocate from the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, or PennPIRG, discussed on Wednesday. Among the main areas of concern:
Counterfeit toys: The danger is not only economic, that is, the legitimate business loses a sale to the fraudster. Some counterfeit toys are also dangerous for children. They may contain lead paint or other toxins. How to stay safe:
- Be skeptical of the insanely low prices. “Is this one much cheaper?” [than the ostensibly-identical item elsewhere] and you can’t really figure out why? PennPIRG lawyer Emma Horst-Martz asked, describing what toy buyers should be wondering about. “And that rule applies whether you shop in person or online,” agreed Jennifer Swanner, owner of The Curious Little Playhouse, a toy store and indoor space in York.
- Look for a “CE” certification on the box. âThe CE stamp is what you’re going to find on brand name toys that meet a certain safety standard,â Swanner said.
- If you are buying online, check the reputation of the seller. Horst-Martz said that there is nothing inherently wrong with buying online, but it requires special vigilance.
“Smart toys:” Horst-Martz said PennPIRG staff tested on a popular karaoke machine, which they could access via Bluetooth, without a code, from a distance of 30 feet. âSo, hypothetically, a bad actor could break into the device and play anythingâ¦ from an explicit song to even a vocal recording telling a child to come out,â Horst-Martz said. She advised to be wary of any toy that allows strangers to gain access to your child so easily. Swanner’s advice? “If you are a parent, aunt, grandparent or uncle, if you are not sure what this tech toy is, maybe it is best to stay away” and go low -tech.
Recommended age groups: Pay close attention to these, but also to what you know about your own child. Swanner said some two-year-olds may be able to play safely with a toy intended for children three and older. On the other hand, Amy Bollinger, head of the pediatric trauma and injury prevention program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital – who joined Horst-Martz in a media call Thursday – said children with certain needs Specials may not be able to play safely with toys labeled for children their age. His advice: If in doubt, consult your child’s pediatrician. Horst-Martz also said that age filters on online shopping sites do not always work properly. Therefore, after selecting a toy, be sure to read that toy’s individual description carefully rather than assuming that it matches your search parameters.
Also keep in mind that while a toy is suitable for a child of a certain age, the batteries in that same toy – especially the small, easy-to-swallow “button batteries” – can be harmful or even fatal for a child. . When changing the batteries in a toy, “you just have to be very careful about where the old ones are,” said Horst-Martz.