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Daily Q&A: What should I know about "Santa Claus" sites that my child might visit on the web?

How can I ensure that my child is protected when visiting "Santa Claus" sites on the Internet?

Parents should take caution when allowing their children to use sites related to the holidays.

The Better Business Bureau of West Florida says there are more than 60 sites with domain names registered in the name of Santa Claus. And the Children's Advertising Review Unit urges parents to examine the sites before their children use them.

"Even Santa is required to comply with CARU's Online Privacy Protection guidelines and the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act," said Wayne J. Keeley, CARU's director.

CARU says 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 name of the company and the company's complete contact information.

It should also state whether the company shares information with third parties, including advertisers, and whether the company publicly discloses the information or retains the information for any future purpose.

Here are tips from CARU for reviewing the "Dear Santa" sites:

• 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, for instance.

• Limit the personal information children share with Santa and omit physical addresses – Santa already knows where all the children live.

• Check Websites for unwelcome content. Some sites are geared toward adults and may contain language or advertising adults may not want children to see.

•Since hyperlinks can allow children to move seamlessly from one site to another, investigate the hyperlinks to assure children don't access inappropriate content.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: What should I know about "Santa Claus" sites that my child might visit on the web? 12/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 4:05pm]
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