In recent years, more and more digital devices appear, designed specifically for children. These include toys connected to the Internet (Internet of Toys). These items, which are functional for the child themselves, additionally contain digital content that expands the possibilities of their usage. It is thus critical to understand how children interact with digital toys, and to assess the risks and opportunities they bring to children's development.
The report focuses on some preliminary results of the research project “Toys connected to the Internet: studying the risks and opportunities for child development", conducted by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Contemporary Childhood of MSUPE in 2021-2022. The task of the first stage of the study was to analyze the position of parents in relation to IoToys.
The research group analysed 300 reviews of parents who bought their children a toy connected to the Internet (Smart Bear) on the sites of online stores.
The data testify that despite production recommendations parents tend to buy the toy for children of younger age. As positive characteristics, most parents identify the external signs of the toy (image, voice), rather than its digital characteristics. Of all the functions presented, entertainment content (listening to fairy tales, songs) and reminders of regime moments are mainly used. The least popular is educational content. Half of the parents who spoke about the child's attitude to the toy noted that the child perceives it as a friend. At the same time, a quarter reported that the child is afraid of the toy because it behaves like a living creature.
The obtained data reveal parents’ insufficient awareness about the toy connected to the Internet, its functions, possibilities and risks of use. Further research is needed to determine the role of the adult as a facilitator when playing with a digital toy.