Teddy Bears with AI: Cool, creepy or a true security risk?

Jul 3, 2023, 7:15 AM

AI toys for kids are coming soon as of 2023...

Iraqi Kurdish pop singer Dashni Murad, known as the "Shakira of Kurdistan", offers a teddy bear to a displaced boy during a visit at the al-Khazar camp in the village of Hasan Sham, some 40 kilometres east of Arbil, on April 28, 2017. (Photo by Safin HAMID / AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by Safin HAMID / AFP via Getty Images)

In the not-so-distant future, you could walk in on a teddy bear reading a bedtime story to your child. And it wouldn’t be just any story — it’d be a saga tailored to everything the toy knows about your child, including likes, dislikes and even their deepest secrets.

Modern AI toys for kids are a far cry from the Teddy Ruxpin and Furbys from the 1980s and ’90s. Back then, those toys seemed creepy. Now, they’re nothing compared to the artificial intelligence-powered smart toys coming soon. 

We’re bound to see a slew of AI ChatGPT-powered toys hitting the scene this holiday season. Here’s what you should know before the kids start asking for them. 

Free AI games are already here

Anyone can go online and play AI chat games in a few clicks. AI tools like ChatGPT make it easy for developers to churn out engaging games. Even Buzzfeed is using artificial intelligence to make custom quizzes.

It’s no stretch of the imagination to say you could see AI teddy bears on your kids’ bed in a few years.

Imagine a toy that learns everything about your child. Your kid can hold entire conversations with the toy and it will respond in complete sentences. The more your child speaks to the toy, the more “intelligent” it becomes.  

This is what VTech CEO and toymaker Allan Wong is betting the company’s future on a line of AI teddy bears. He says the interactive plushies will offer parents an alternative to traditional bedtime story rituals. 

These AI-powered bears would use chatbot-style technology to create customized tales. They could talk a child down from a temper tantrum, entertain them and teach them lessons. No doubt, your child will form a real bond with this toy. 

Going way beyond basic information, I’m willing to bet these toys may also collect school and home locations and sensitive data about Mom and Dad.  

While the concept is innovative, the same privacy concerns that plague adult smart devices apply to these new kiddie gadgets. Whenever a toy has recording capabilities, the data is often collected, stored and shared with third-party buyers.  

AI toys for kids have been in the works for a while

Remember the Hello Barbie? In 2015, this Wi-Fi-enabled doll was the precursor to AI toys. It recorded, collected and saved conversations. The significant invasion of privacy and security risk was one thing. 

But there were also concerns about how the recorded data could be used for marketing purposes. Its maker, Mattel, was sued and made changes to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  

Keeping play private 

It’s impractical to try to avoid AI toys altogether, as they’re quickly becoming a household norm. But how can you make sure you and your family are safe? 

  • Disable things like cameras and chat functionalities, if possible.  
  • Enable any and all parental controls on the toys.  
  • Always read the gadget’s privacy policy.  
  • Make sure there’s a way to reset the toy to erase its capabilities and memory. Take those steps if your child stops using it. 

You could also try to convince your kid there’s something cooler than an AI toy. Maybe it’s not so bad stepping on Legos all the time.

Kim Komando

Use these tech tricks to take a trip down memory lane. (Pexels photo, left, Google Maps image, righ...

Kim Komando

See what the home you grew up in looks like now and other Maps tricks

Use these tricks with Google Maps and Google Earth to find out what your childhood home looks like, keep track of shipwrecks and more.

1 day ago

(Pexels File Photo)...

Kim Komando

Can you spot election deepfakes? Here’s how not to be duped

AI deepfakes are a massive problem this election season, and it’s easy to get taken — especially when your news and social feeds are full of this junk.

8 days ago

The Journal app is seen on an iPhone in this photo illustration taken on 10 November, 2023. (Photo ...

Kim Komando

Is Apple’s new Journal app a major privacy nightmare?

In this article, we debunk myths associated to Apple's Journal App. Is it safe, can our friends read our deepest darkest secrets? Read more.

15 days ago

facebook logo sign...

Kim Komando

I’m a tech expert, and you need to make these changes before it’s too late

In this article, discover crucial steps to protect your digital legacy and online security, such as adjusting privacy settings on Facebook.

21 days ago

(Pexels Photo)...

Kim Komando

Check out these 7 Mac and Windows tricks only the pros know

From closing browser tabs in a snap to troubleshooting tricks for Mac and Windows, optimize your digital life effortlessly.

22 days ago

Follow @kimkomando...

Sponsored Content by Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Teddy Bears with AI: Cool, creepy or a true security risk?