Expert: High-tech toys for kids could be costly for parents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The shopping is done, the gifts have been opened and if you have children, it is possible you had some high-tech toys under your tree.

Paula Fleming with the Better Business Bureau said it’s important to talk with your kids about in-app extras or game upgrades that could prove costly.

“Unless you’re very tech savvy, it gets very confusing and you have to stay on top of things at all times,” she said. “Whether they’re downstairs playing the Xbox or on their smartphone, they are in the middle of a battle and they want an upgrade, it may say free. Well, what it means by free to them is, ‘oh it’s totally free!’ But what it means to the parent is it may be a free trial, and unless you opt out then you’re charged $19.99 or $9.99.”

It’s also important to review the privacy policies for internet-connected devices.

“In simple terms, if they can purchase or upgrade, it’s going to a direct credit card,” Fleming added. “Sometimes you might not even be aware until you’re hundreds of dollars down the road.”

Here are some things to look for when purchasing in-app extras or game upgrades:

  • What pieces of information the device collects from the user
  • A list of who is collecting that information
  • How that information is used
  • How that information is stored

It is also important to make sure internet-connected devices are only used on a secure network. Experts said you should also to turn off those devices when you’re not using them to make sure personal information is not inadvertently collected.