ST. LOUIS – The Illinois Public Interest Research Group released its 38th annual Trouble in Toyland report on Monday. It gives parents and gift givers an idea of how specific smart toys work, as well as tips and questions to ask before buying toys with technology that can collect information about young children.

“There are multiple reviews on Amazon with parents saying they opened this up, took it out of the box, and literally strangers started talking to their children on it,” Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, said.

But Scarr says just because a toy has a camera or microphone doesn’t make it unsafe.

“It’s about understanding how it works and whether it’s secure, and we think this is an example of a toy that does feature a camera,” he said. “It is a smart toy, but also is relatively safe.”

While much of this year’s report focuses on technology, low-tech water beads are on the naughty list.

“This can be a really big problem if the child ingests them. Between 2016 and 2022, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there we over 7,800 injuries and emergency room visits due to water beads,” Scarr said.

For parents with young children, Scarr says to avoid buying water beads, and if you already have them in your home, get rid of them.