• 4 Popular, but Possibly Dangerous, Holiday Tech Gifts

Photo of holiday tech gifts elegantly wrapped

With the magic of the holidays right around the corner, one of your top priorities is probably checking off the items on your long shopping list. But did you know that some of the gifts you might be planning to purchase could come with some serious safety concerns?

Morse, of course, wants you to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of what you’re buying! So, we did a little holiday gift-giving research for you, picked out four trending tech gift ideas, and put together some of the pros and cons of having these devices in and around your home and family. This information is just a starting point, though. It’s beneficial to review other customers’ comments and consumer buying guides for more information about your intended gift items. It’s also an excellent idea to sign up for a newsletter that alerts you to the latest product recalls just in case a gift you’ve given or received ends up being on the naughty list.

4 Holiday Tech Gift Ideas & Their Potential Safety Risks

1. Micromobility devices like e-bikes, hoverboards, and e-scooters

E-bikes are on trend to be one of the top gifts this year, hoverboards have been a hot-ticket item for a while now, and e-scooters are incredibly popular for getting around town quickly, so we wouldn’t be surprised if someone in your life has one of these items on the top of their holiday wish list. However, micromobility devices like these come with some notorious safety issues because they are typically powered by lithium-ion batteries, which, if used, charged, or stored improperly, can overheat, catch fire, and even explode.

So, when you shop for these types of vehicles, one important thing to look for is that the device you’re buying has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another similar qualified testing laboratory. Having the UL stamp of approval generally means that a product’s mechanical and electrical systems have been thoroughly tested. It’s also important that the e-bike, hoverboard, or e-scooter recipient and all other household members thoroughly understand the manufacturer’s instructions and have read the owner’s manual, so they understand how to safely charge and store their specific device and battery. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides some great resources for the safe use of products with lithium-ion batteries. Finally, since loss of balance, falling, and crashing are pretty common occurrences when using these vehicles—especially for newbies and dare devils—you may also want to consider gifting safety gear, like a helmet or elbow, wrist, and knee pads, along with the device.

2. VR Headsets

The metaverse may be coming to a household near you this holiday season! With virtual reality technology becoming far more affordable, people eager to get their hands on this hardware may have their wish come true. But while these high-tech headsets offer a surreal experience that can keep a gamer enthralled for hours, there are some safety issues buyers and users should know about. When someone wears a VR headset, they can only see what’s depicted in the goggles, not what’s around them in real life. This lack of spatial awareness during a VR session means that you could bang into a coffee table, run into a curious pet, trip over an electrical wire, or find yourself in numerous other hazardous situations that can lead to everything from a broken finger to a twisted ankle and even concussion.

The good news is that these injuries are largely preventable. There are a few easy things that a VR user can do before putting on the headset, like making sure the area they’re gaming in is free of hazards, including toys, plants, pets, and furniture. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the room you’re using for your VR adventures has plenty of space so you can freely wave your arms, kick your legs, or jump up and down without encountering a wall, window, or door in the real world. Once the goggles are on, a VR user may also want to slowly walk around the room, feeling for objects that could confine their space, like walls or shelves, and taking a mental note of how much room there is to move around. Finally, one of the best ways to stay safe while the goggles are on is to enlist a buddy who will watch you while you have your experience and make sure you don’t get into trouble—then, you can return the favor.

3. Drones

People of all ages enjoy using drones, whether it’s for taking aerial photographs or videos for their own personal use, practicing their flying techniques, or just playing around with a cool toy. However, drones also have the potential to cause property damage or an injury, which can bring a quick end to the fun and games. For example, if an inexperienced drone operator is flying their device and loses control of it, the drone could crash through a neighbor’s window, harm a pet, or even make contact with a low-flying airplane.

So, if a drone is on a loved one’s holiday wish list, it’s important to look for one that’s appropriate for their age and level of experience. For example, beginner models come with fewer flight modules, making it easier to learn how to operate. Also, it’s essential to know that the Federal Aviation Administration considers all drones, regardless of their design, purpose, or use, to be aircraft. It’s highly recommended that the drone owner—and their parents, depending on the age of the recipient—should read up on local and federal regulations for drone usage, including how to properly register a drone and what areas in their community are considered no-fly zones.

4. Robot Vacuum Cleaners

What homeowner doesn’t enjoy getting a gift that will make their life a little easier? That’s probably why the robot vacuum seems to be a perennial favorite at the top of many holiday wish lists. These champion cleaners can handle carpets to bare floors and dirt to pet hair and can even help keep messes contained when you’re hosting your family for the holidays. However, they are also sophisticated computers that are able to make their way through your house without running into walls, hitting household objects, or falling downstairs because they use Wi-Fi–enabled mapping technology. So, similar to the other smart connected devices in your home, a robot vacuum increases your exposure to a personal cyberattack. We know it sounds crazy, but a hacker really could attempt to infiltrate your vacuum to spy on your household!

If the gift of a clean house is what your loved one can’t live without this holiday season, make sure you buy a robot vacuum only from the most reputable brands, as this typically ensures it was secured against malware at the time of manufacture. In addition, the vacuum owner should stay on top of any updates recommended by the manufacturer to combat evolving cyber threats.

Morse, of course, wants to help you and your family have a safe holiday season.

There’s not much doubt that tech and electronic gifts are going to on many holiday wish lists this year. Whether you’re the giver or receiver of a cool device, we hope it adds lots of joy to your holiday season. We also hope that you are now more aware of the potential dangers that some of these devices come with and have a better understanding of the best safety tips to follow when using them.

If you plan to purchase any of the popular gadgets talked about in this blog, or other items generally considered higher risk, like a trampoline, an unmotorized scooter, or even a new furry four-legged friend, you may want to talk to your local Morse agent before you head out to shop. We would be glad to go over what your homeowners insurance may cover if a thoughtful gift ends up causing an unexpected situation such as a home fire, property damage, or a cybersecurity breach.

Please call Morse today for help protecting your holiday gift purchases and your home and loved ones this holiday season and beyond.

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