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Colorado consumer group releases 2023 'Trouble in Toyland' report as Santa prepares to start making his list

Report examines smart toys, recalled toys and water beads
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Posted at 5:59 PM, Nov 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-22 08:42:41-05

DENVER — It's almost time for Santa to start making his list, but it's important to know which toys are safe and which are causing trouble in toyland.

The Colorado Public Interest Research Group, or CoPIRG Foundation, for short, released its annual "Trouble in Toyland" toy safety reportTuesday, focusing on water beads, smart devices, and recalled toys.

"The vast majority of toys out there are safe," said CoPIRG's executive director Danny Katz. "That said, there is still some trouble in toyland, and as parents, you want to make sure you're looking out for our littlest consumers, our children."

First, Katz demonstrated the danger of water beads, a popular sensory toy that expands when submerged in water.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned water beads can be deadly if swallowed, choking children or blocking their digestive tracts.

From 2016 to 2022, the agency reports 7,800 children have been seen in emergency rooms after swallowing water beads.

"Our message is pretty simple: Don't have water beads if you have kids," said Katz. "I think we all assume if you can buy it, it must be safe. But you should never assume that just because you can buy something, it's safe."

It's important to talk about choking hazards ahead of the holidays. CoPIRG recommended using a toilet paper roll to determine if a toy is safe for a child under three. If it passes through the roll, it is a choking hazard.

As the popularity of "smart toys" continues to grow, CoPIRG warns of two main concerns: Information being collected and security. Some toys collect names, addresses, emails, birthdays, and other identifying information. CoPIRG also found toys, such as microphones, that immediately connect to Bluetooth and walkie-talkies that can be intercepted from miles away.

"You want to make sure that there are some sort of protections so that there aren't these strangers being able to listen in," said Katz.

To see questions parents should ask about smart devices, download the report here.

CoPIRG also wrote in its report that online retailers, such as eBay, listed all type of products that had been recalled. After buying a product, the report states that eBay sent a letter saying, "Oops this has been recalled."

"So there are laws that have recently passed, including one here in Colorado that went into effect last year," said Katz. "And so this is the kind of problem that we hope the attorney general is paying attention to."

To see the full report "Trouble in Toyland" report for 2023, click here.

Which toys are safe, which are cause for concern

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