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Deck the halls, light the lights, you know what time of year this is! And, if you were trying to ignore it, your kids won’t let you! They’ve been angling to get on Santa’s nice list because they have had visions of toys dancing in their heads for quite a while! As you sit down trying to figure out what Anna, Aiden and Emily want this year, Connecticut Parent Magazine hears you loud and clear. That’s why this year’s Holiday Gift Guide should be tops on your “to-be-read list.” What’s hot — it’s there; what’s fun that you might not know about, check, whatever you want for everyone in your family, yes, yes and yes! 

  Another reason this gift guide is so important is that it provides website and shopping information to make purchasing these toys easy as pumpkin pie. Besides the convenience, you can be guaranteed that the toys are top quality and pass all the safety regulations. This isn’t always the case when you purchase gifts online, where counterfeit toys are lurking. But, what does this mean and how can you avoid falling into this trap?

Nearly 31 percent of parents falsely believe counterfeit toys are not sold on major online marketplaces. This is based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. parents conducted by Wakefield Research for The Toy Association.

 

“The U.S. toy community is committed to producing fun, developmentally valuable and safe toys that comply with our nation’s 100+ rigorous toy safety standards and testing regimes. Rest assured that products sold by thousands of legitimate U.S. toy companies, whether in retail stores or online, are indeed safe,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association. Before clicking “Add to Cart,” follow these tips for avoiding fraudulent toys that might be unsafe this holiday season

 

The Hidden Dangers of Counterfeit Toys

 More than 34 percent of toy-buying parents don’t know that counterfeit toys are not always tested for safety.

 • TIP 1: Parents are advised to dig a little deeper into a lesser-known seller’s online presence and reviews to be sure the toy they are considering is authentic, and therefore, safe. Can’t find a website for the manufacturer or seller? That’s one red flag. Multiple grammatical errors in a product description or poorly Photoshopped pictures are more red flags. A great alternative is to visit the toy brand’s website and either purchase directly from the site or follow links to an official retailer to purchase.

 

Worth the Risk?

Many parents admit that they might gamble on unverified sellers. The top reasons include: the toys being out of stock everywhere else or if the toy was exactly what their children wanted. Twenty seven percent of parents would be enticed if the “unverified” toy was simply cheaper.

• TIP 2: If a deal seems too good to be true, the product might be a counterfeit or imitation. A fake toy or cheaper alternative might be unsafe — it’s just not worth the risk.

 

Age Grading: It’s More than Just a Number

 An alarming 96 percent of parents surveyed are confident that their children can responsibly play with a toy even if they are younger than the toy’s age recommendation. This is troubling because grading is not based on a child’s intelligence, but rather his or her developmental skills at a given age. Toys labeled 3+ might contain small parts that are a choking hazard for children under age 3 or those who still mouth toys.

• TIP 3: After verifying that a seller is legitimate, parents should check the toy’s age recommendation and only select toys that match their child’s age and interests.

 

The Toy Association encourages parents to be vigilant about the toys they bring into their home by only choosing playthings from reputable, known and verified brands and sellers. More information about toy safety and safe play can be found at www.PlaySafe.org.