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Kids and Santa Online
Report to Moderator Old 06-02-2002 09:23 PM
MMC Editor
 
Views: 49,029
Replies: 0
By Jeff Westover

As the holiday season approaches more and more kids will be searching out Santa Claus online. While it is a seemingly harmless and fun exercise, there are plenty of worries for parents. Webmasters or product promoters do not take Santa very seriously. In fact, the beloved figure of Santa has a dark side online – and kids are his prey.

Some web sites openly encourage kids to not only email Santa Claus but also to leave their full name, address and phone number. This is completely unnecessary from any web site. The Child Online Privacy Protection Act requires specific parental involvement when it comes to sharing information for online users under the age of 13. Most Santa sites surveyed online do not comply with COPPA.

Many web sites promote “Santa beacons”, a device kids are suppose to hang on their doorknob to ensure Santa will stop at their house. In fact, there are dozens of sites where Santa is for sale. You can get Santa videos, special Santa stockings and hats, Santa-authorized news reports and even special Reindeer food that Santa himself will sell to you. It is all a shameless exploitation of both kids and the legacy of Santa Claus.

Another site entices kids to write to Santa Claus and then directs a child to a website that declares Santa as an anagram for Satan. Yet another site warns children that they are on the naughty list and need to subscribe to a commercial mailing in order to get off of it (the mailing frequently has links to adult sites).

Google lists thousands of Santa-related websites. How can you be sure which ones are safe and which are the ones to avoid?

Begin by searching for Santa yourself. Find three or four links you personally approve and then forward those links to your kids. If you find certain sites offensive, utilize your parental controls to ban access to such a site by anyone using your computer.

When seeking Santa bear in mind a few simple safeguards for allowing kids to have their fun online:

- Decide before you surf just how interactive you want your kids to be with Santa Claus. Many web sites offer a letters to Santa feature but rarely does Santa himself ever write back. And that’s probably for the best.

- Look for the child-safe certification logos. Many organizations work to certify sites that comply with the Child Online Privacy and Protection Act, a law designed to keep kids safe online.

- Keep Santa on message. Santa’s connection to the holiday season has nothing to do with endorsing a product or encouraging greed in children. Avoid sites that exploit Santa in this way.

- Research Santa Claus yourself at Defending Santa.com. This site works to overcome the myths and misconceptions of Santa, to safeguard his honor and to protect his legacy. It is a fun homework assignment for kids to get to know Santa’s origins and a fascinating exercise for parents who want to shape the perception of the holiday season in a more appropriate way for their kids.

Santa Claus permeates the holiday season for children. You can either choose to control the influence he has on your kids – or you can allow the world to control that influence for you.
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» Recent Comments
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How will he enter the house if someone don't have chimney or fireplace??
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