By now, you have probably heard of STEM education. This encompasses Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. You may see many children’s toys with the STEM acronym on them. Schools that teach STEM education, integrate all aspects rather than separate them into their different disciplines. Doing this allows the student to learn computational thinking and problem solving.

Even has a section devoted to STEM educational toys.

Hopefully you were able to purchase some STEM toys for your children or grandchildren. The future of our children’s learning will depend on STEM even for non-STEM courses as they are a way of learning to look at a full problem from all angles.

Smart Toys

Jody Victor‘s crew wants to warn everyone that you need to be careful if you are considering buying
smart toys for children. Our warning is 2-pronged.

First is that any toy that can go online via WiFi has the potential to be hacked. There are already some instances of this.

The Hello Barbie doll was found to be able to be a surveillance device.

VTech, based in Hong Kong, had a vulnerability that allowed private information including names, addresses, email addresses, download history, secret questions to be compromised.

HereO watch, a GPS-enabled watch, had a vulnerability that allowed stalkers a way to track and send messages posing as their parents.

Fisher Price’s Smart Toy Monkey had a vulnerability that could leak owner information.

These are just a few toys we know of so far.

The second prong to this problem is this: Will these be new avenues for our (or any) government to track us? Will any toy or device equipped with a camera and/or microphone allow government agencies to spy on us or for them to confiscate them for investigation?

We might need to think twice before purchasing these items.