Toy safety surveillance from online reviews

Matt Winkler, Alan S. Abrahams, Richard Gruss, Johnathon P Ehsani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Toy-related injuries account for a significant number of childhood injuries and the prevention of these injuries remains a goal for regulatory agencies and manufacturers. Text-mining is an increasingly prevalent method for uncovering the significance of words using big data. This research sets out to determine the effectiveness of text-mining in uncovering potentially dangerous children's toys. We develop a danger word list, also known as a "smoke word" list, from injury and recall text narratives. We then use the smoke word lists to score over one million Amazon reviews, with the top scores denoting potential safety concerns. We compare the smoke word list to conventional sentiment analysis techniques, in terms of both word overlap and effectiveness. We find that smoke word lists are highly distinct from conventional sentiment dictionaries and provide a statistically significant method for identifying safety concerns in children's toy reviews. Our findings indicate that text-mining is, in fact, an effective method for the surveillance of safety concerns in children's toys and could be a gateway to effective prevention of toy product-related injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDecision Support Systems
StateAccepted/In press - Dec 4 2015


  • Injuries
  • Online reviews
  • Safety surveillance
  • Toys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management

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