Privacy Risks for New Parents

Published Categorized as Games

Embracing Parenthood in the Digital Age

While certain aspects of new parenthood—sleepless nights, diaper changes, inexplicable crying jags—are timeless, recent technological innovations have made life a bit easier for babies and their parents. From high-def baby monitors to feeding-tracker apps, wireless breast pumps to high-tech “Smart Sleeper” cribs.

The Dark Side of Smart Parenting

Smart Technology, Privacy Threats, and Baby Gear

Baby monitors and other gear

Baby monitors provide peace of mind. Parents can listen for their little ones’ cries and—using Wi-Fi-connected cameras and phone apps—even watch them sleep peacefully in the dark from anywhere. Unfortunately, so can random strangers on the internet. As we recently noted, when a security firm tested all the leading baby monitor brands, eight out of nine failed for major security flaws. Occasional news stories have detailed incidents where hackers screamed at babies or played creepy music to them. Not for nothing, privacy experts recommend parents consider opting for a Wi-Fi-free, radio-frequency-based monitor instead.

Although most other baby gear lacks the video and voice component of baby monitors, these days you can find internet-connected strollers, rockers, breast pumps, and even top-of-the-line cribs, which puts you at risk of exposing your personal information and data. Be sure to check out our tips for keeping your apps as secure as possible.

Sharing Personal Data: A New Parent’s Dilemma

Baby Tracker Apps and ‘Sharenting’

Baby tracker apps

On the one hand, apps that keep track of a baby’s feeding schedules, sleep patterns, and diaper changes can feel like a godsend to bleary-eyed new parents. On the other hand, you’re sharing an awful lot of you and your baby’s personal information, which could potentially be sell to advertisers, share with your employer, or hack.

Photo and video ‘sharenting’

We get it: Your new baby is amazing and adorable. And, particularly in this age when so many of us are staying home and unable to see family members in person, it’s nice to be able to share some happy news on Facebook (where the grandparents and older aunts and uncles are most likely to still be hanging out) or the ’Gram.

You know where we stand on this: Facebook has a pretty awful track record when it comes to data breaches, and your best bet is to just delete the app. At the very least, set all of your profiles to the most private of settings (and check this every few months, since privacy settings change frequently); turn off geotagging; always use a VPN when sending or uploading photos on a public Wi-Fi network; and try to be mindful of who your followers are. Sharing your baby’s birth announcement with their middle name, birthday, and place of birth today could leave them susceptible to identity theft in the future.

Besides the obvious issues with your data being sold, stolen, or hacked, there’s also the ethical question of what right parents really have to share their children’s photos or cute videos, since they can’t consent to it.

Playtime Gone Wrong: Privacy Risks of Smart Toys

Smart Toys, Personal Data, and Online Threats

Much like baby monitors, a wide variety of smart toys—including teddy bears, dolls, and children’s watches—have shown themselves vulnerable to hacks. In 2017, the CloudPets talking teddy bear exposed over two million voice recordings of children and their parents (along with countless children’s profile photos, addresses, emails, and much more). Similar concerns arose in 2015 with the talking Hello Barbie. And in 2018 electronic toy giant Vtech—which specializes in toys for babies and preschoolers—was charged by the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. with violating federal privacy law by collecting personal information from children without providing direct notice (and obtaining their parents’ consent), and then failing to properly secure their data after it was collected.

Plain old wooden blocks are looking better and better.

Smart Home, Not-So-Smart Risks

Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Siri: A Privacy Conundrum

There’s a whole slew of ways in which these smart home devices can violate your privacy and cause headaches, but a few in particular come to mind with regard to babies and children: Two 2019 lawsuits accused Amazon of violating children’s privacy by failing to get their consent when recording their voices with Alexa (and in particular the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition, which is specifically marketed to children). Both suits took issue with Amazon permanently storing audio recordings.

In 2017, an Amazon Echo acceded to a 6-year-old’s request to “Get me a dollhouse” by ordering one (a fancy $170 dollhouse, no less!) along with four pounds of sugar cookies. Somewhat hilariously, when this amusing novelty story was reported on a San Diego news show, a whole bunch of Echos listening at home also ordered dollhouses when the little girl’s request was quoted. An important lesson for parents: Be sure to add a lock code for making purchases!

Studies have found both Amazon Echo and Google Home to be susceptible to BlueBorne attacks from hackers (although updates were subsequently introduced to address these). Concerned about screen time? A frequent complaint among parents is how easy it is for their kids to access YouTube with the Google Home Nest. We suggest utilizing Google Home’s Digital Wellbeing features to create stricter controls and filters (or even shut off YouTube completely).


1. Are baby monitors safe to use?
  • Baby monitors can be safe if used properly. Opt for monitors with strong security features and consider those that operate on radio frequencies instead of Wi-Fi to minimize hacking risks.
2. How can I protect my baby’s privacy online?
  • Protect your baby’s privacy by being mindful of the information you share on social media, using secure baby tracker apps, and being cautious with smart toys and home devices that may collect personal data.
3. Should I use voice-controlled devices around my baby?
  • While convenient, voice-controlled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home may pose privacy risks, especially concerning children’s data. Consider disabling certain features or implementing stringent privacy controls.
4. What should I do if I suspect a privacy breach involving my baby?
  • If you suspect a privacy breach involving your baby, take immediate action by securing your devices, changing passwords, and contacting relevant authorities or support channels for assistance.
5. How can I balance convenience with privacy as a new parent?
  • As a new parent, striking a balance between convenience and privacy is crucial. Stay informed about the latest privacy threats, use secure technologies, and prioritize your baby’s safety and well-being above all else.

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