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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Expert advises parents to learn about the dangers toys pose to kids

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Monday, December 18, 2023   

With the holiday gift-giving season here, consumer advocates want to make sure parents and caregivers understand the threats toys can pose to children.

Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, said it is crucial for parents to do their homework and know what they are buying. The group's most recent toy safety report highlighted the growing popularity of "smart toys."

Murray pointed out toy manufacturers are making everything from stuffed animals and dolls to race-car tracks and even board games more tech friendly.

"These companies are collecting data," Murray emphasized. "Maybe they're using it for play but then they're also using it in many cases to market things to your child that maybe you don't want your child to have or they're just putting information in these databases."

Murray acknowledged parents may find smart toys have their benefits, such as keeping your child engaged for longer, but she encouraged parents and gift-givers to look at privacy policies and find out what kind of information and data is being gathered and shared.

Murray noted despite toys being potentially harmful, they still remain available. One of those toys is called "water beads," colorful, squishy sensory toys the size of pinheads or ice cream sprinkles. They expand when placed in water. If ingested, the beads expand and can block a child's airway or damage the digestive tract. Pets can be at risk, too.

Amazon, Walmart and Target recently announced they will no longer sell water beads after the end of the year.

"Congress just introduced legislation a couple of weeks ago to ban water beads as toys, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has indicated that they're going to put some kind of restrictions on water beads," outlined. "But here is the thing that is unfortunate, is that's not going to help for water beads already have in their home."

Murray recommended if you have water beads in your home, to get rid of them especially if you have a child or pet. You can make sure the toys you buy are safe by following tips at toysafetytips.org.

Murray would like to see online marketplaces held to the same standards as brick-and-mortar stores to mitigate the sale of recalled and counterfeit toys. She recommended parents read labels and ensure their kids have access to age-appropriate toys.

"Sometimes parents will say, 'well, you know, my child is advanced for his or her age,'" Murray observed. "OK, great. Maybe intellectually but not necessarily developmentally, so you're just better to be safe than sorry."


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