5 Kids Tech Toys That Are Complete Crap

Barbie

Hello Barbie | Source: Mattel

It seems as if kids these days have it made: Their toys are cooler than any we’ve ever had, and we’ve covered in the past tech toys that are so cool even adults will like them. But tech-infused toys don’t always work, and in fact there are a few that we’d recommend not buying for your kid, because they’re either dangerous, have little educational value, or just plain suck.

Technology can sometimes work against us, as you’ll see, either making the toy difficult to use, easily breakable, or even put your child at risk of being spied on by predators. The next time you’re at the toy store, we recommend steering clear of these five toys.

1. Hello Barbie

Hello Barbie was supposed to be a major shift in how our young girls interact with the iconic plastic doll. Press a small button on Hello Barbie’s belt, and she is supposed to understand you and even be able to hold a interactive conversation with you. The problem? It doesn’t actually work that way.

Amazon reviewers (who gave it an average of just under two-and-a-half stars) say Hello Barbie has more than a few issues. Multiple reviewers said the doll is difficult to charge — if it charges at all — and the doll has trouble staying connected to Wi-Fi, which it requires to work.

Worse yet? Often times the voice recognition software doesn’t work as intended, and most say they were primarily only successful in getting Barbie to answer “yes” or “no” questions. One organization went as far as to claim Hello Barbie is “hackable” and an easy target for predators to spy on your child, but we have some doubts on those claims and so do experts.

 VTech

Source: VTech

2. VTech’s Kid Connect-enabled devices

VTech makes dozens toys that are aimed at giving our younger ones kid-friendly versions of the tech gadgets we all take for granted. One of their services for these devices is something called Kid Connect. The service is supposed to allow your child to safely chat with you and no one else while keeping information safe, but at least one hacker has proven that’s not the case.

What the hacker found — and then shared with online publication Motherboard — was that VTech’s servers have horrible security measures. Not only was the hacker able to download actual images taken by the cameras of these devices, but a ton of personal information, too. Stolen were the names, email addresses, passwords, and physical addresses of almost 5 million parents, and the first names, genders, and birthdays of more than 200,000 kids.

One would think a company like VTech would be smarter in how it secures its network, especially since its primary audience is children, but apparently not.

World Tech Toys

Source: World Tech Toys

3. World Tech Toys Rechargeable Copter

Drones are all the rage among us adults, so it was only a matter of time before some toy company tried to duplicate the commercial success with kid-centric versions. Unfortunately, World Tech Toys’ versions disappoint in that regard.

The company currently sells a $50 drone on Amazon which it says is unbreakable (up to 200 pounds of force) and rechargeable. It also claims that the drone is easy to control through the included remote (which, by the way, still needs 4 ‘AA’ batteries), but reviewers say otherwise.

Reviews on Pissed Consumer say the rechargeable battery lasts less than 30 minutes, while others report that the manufacture of the device is cheap and breaks easily. On Amazon, it’s much of the same thing. Several reviewers reported that the drone indeed does break easily, and a few even reported drones that were dead on arrival and needed to be sent back for replacement, some several times over. No wonder it got only two out of five stars.

4. Fisher-Price Click ‘n Learn Remote

Fisher-Price Click 'n Learn Remote

Click ‘n Learn Remote | Source: Fisher-Price

Fisher-Price holds a special place in many of our hearts, if for the dozens of toys we’ve played with as kids manufactured by the company. That doesn’t mean they have a perfect record, though. The Click ‘n Learn Remote is one of them, and, as Today reports, has actually gotten an “unsafe rating” by the US PIRG, which has gauged toy safety for nearly three decades.

While the Click ‘n Learn Remote does get good reviews on Amazon, it seemingly has little use educationally. Pressing buttons makes sounds, but it doesn’t really help your child learn what it’s saying. Add to this the problem that it also for some odd reason includes working up and down volume buttons, and this toy can become extremely loud quickly. That could damage your baby’s sensitive hearing — the reason why US PIRG does not recommend it.

From the reviews, we see that people have figured out ways to disable the volume buttons, but having them easily accessible in the first place sounds like design wasn’t thought through completely here.

5. ‘Educational’ toys that talk

Fisher-Price

Source: Fisher-Price

While we’ve already talked about Hello Barbie before, another seemingly overrated group of toys are those that promote language learning to infants and toddlers. Northern Arizona University professor Anna Sosa compared these types of toys with books as well as traditional toys like alphabet blocks and the like. Her findings were quite surprising.

The study revealed that books and traditional toys promoted much more conversation than the electronic toys, Sosa says. She also could find no evidence that the talking toys themselves were actually teaching the baby language. This is because a lot of language is learning the art of conversation itself, which a toy (and, as we already know, Hello Barbie) cannot do.

Sosa and another expert interviewed by NPR say that interaction between parent and child will help your child learn language skills much faster than the talking toys ever could. So next time, choose the Alphabet blocks over Talking Elmo.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald

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