A new report by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) reveals that well over half of the toys they bought from online marketplaces had serious safety failures.

This included toys with:

  • powerful magnets that can stick together and burn holes in a child’s gut
  • accessible lithium coin cell batteries that can burn through a child’s food pipe
  • small parts that can choke a small child
  • cords long enough to strangle a child.

Worrying, the scale of the problem looks to be on the increase: this was more than double the percentage of toys that BTHA tested and found to be unsafe last year (60% up from 22%).

While toys made by reputable companies comply with strict safety standards, overseas sellers can sell unsafe products through well-known online marketplaces.

That’s because – contrary to what many of us believe – an online marketplace is not responsible for checking that a toy is safe before they allow it to be sold.

And with many toys sold by companies based overseas, trading standards officers struggle to prosecute them.

With increasing numbers of parents now buying online due to the pandemic, BTHA is worried they may be unknowingly bringing dangerous toys into their homes.

They are calling for urgent action to regulate online marketplaces and keep children safe.

Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said:

“Parents assume that, if they can buy a toy, it must be safe. It’s frightening to learn that, if they buy a toy online, their child may be at risk of serious injury from powerful magnets or accessible coin cell batteries."

“Sadly, it’s too easy for unscrupulous companies to profit from the cover of online marketplaces, selling toys that don’t meet the high standards reputable manufacturers work to. We support BTHA’s call for action to protect children from harm.”

BTHA offers the following tips to help parents buy safe toys online:

  • If you can, buy a branded toy from the brand itself.
  • Look for the Lion Mark – BTHA members sign an annual declaration to make safe toys.
  • Check if the seller is based in the UK or Europe.
  • If they’re not, take care – don’t assume that any safety tests have been carried out.

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