A consumer watchdog group is urging parents to be vigilant this holiday season - and all throughout the year - and to think about if the toys their children are using are really safe.

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund tested 40 toys for its annual toy safety report and found 15 with safety issues, including high concentrations of unsafe chemicals and potential choking hazards.

The tested toys represent only a small sampling of the thousands of toys available for sale online or in stores. Over the decades, the group’s testing has led to more than 150 toy recalls and other regulatory actions.

“No one should worry about whether or not the toy they’re buying is toxic or dangerous. But in 2018, we’re still finding hazards in some of the most popular toys. Toy manufacturers must do better to ensure their products are safe before they end up in children’s hands and mouths,” said Reuben Mathew of PennPIRG.

Beyond toys that could pose physical risks, this year’s Trouble in Toyland report includes interactive, internet-connected electronic toys that could present privacy concerns.

What to check for when toy shopping

Toys with sound:

If a toy is too loud for you, it could damage your child's hearing. Turn off the sound, remove the batteries, or return it altogether.

Slime: Some slimey materials contain high levels of toxic boron. Consider alternatives, or monitor kids at all times. Call Poison Control if any is ingested.

Fidget spinners/toys marketed to adults: Some items that may serve as toys are not classified as toys, and do not have to meet safety standards. This include fidget spinners and play makeup. Avoid these items, or watch your child closely when they have them.

Toys with small parts: Before your child plays with a toy for the first time, see if smaller parts fit through a toilet paper roll—indicating they pose a choking hazard.

"Hatching" toys: Break-apart packaging can result in choking hazards for small children.

Balloons: Balloons are the No. 1 choking hazard for children. Never let a child under 3 play with them, and monitor any child under 8.

Smart toys: Sites, apps, games and smart toys might be collecting private data from your child, and some could be hacked, posing a safety risk. Consider running these without connections to the internet, evaluate privacy policies when you first start them, and monitor use.

Toys with small magnets: Swallowed magnets can cause serious internal damage if they bunch together. Keep them away from young children.

Contributing: TEGNA Staff