“Dear Santa” Websites Should Be Used With Caution

August 08, 2012

More than 60 domain names have been registered under the name of Santa Claus, offering children a wide range of opportunity to email St. Nick their Christmas list. Unfortunately, some of these websites may not be trustworthy and can potentially be a dangerous way to share personal information. Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising parents to exercise caution before letting children write to Santa online this holiday season.

“Writing to Santa has been a long lasting tradition, and writing to Santa online is certainly easy,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO. “But it is important for adults to review sites carefully to determine who is seeking the information, how it will be used and if it will be shared with third parties.”

According to the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), all websites directed to children – or websites designed with a special children’s section – should have a privacy policy that explains the site’s information collection practices. The privacy policy should include the company’s name and complete contact information. It should also state whether the company shares information with third parties, including advertisers, and whether it publicly discloses the information or retains it for any future purpose.

CARU offers the following ‘Dear Santa’ site tips to help parents and children stay safe online this holiday season:

  • Check to see what information is requested. Websites directed to children should not ask a child to disclose more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in the activity – a first name and email address should suffice.

  • Limit personal information and omit physical addresses. In many cases, there really shouldn’t be a need to share this information, especially since Santa already knows where all children live.

  • Check websites for inappropriate content. Some ‘Dear Santa’ sites are geared toward adults and may contain adult language or advertising.

  • Check hyperlinks. Since hyperlinks allow children to move seamlessly from one site to another, find out where they land to ensure children don’t access inappropriate content.

For more information on website safety for children, please visit CARU at www.CARU.org. For more information you can trust, visit www.arizonabbb.org.

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