ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A lot of different apps are bringing Santa Claus into the digital age, but is the new technology safe?
There are more than 50 Santa-themed and Christmas apps available for download on mobile devices, but social media experts said it’s important to take steps to protect the children who use them.
“You can see where Santa is at any time in the day, but Santa doesn’t need to know where you are because he already knows,” social media expert and counselor at Shaker Junior High School Stacey Angell said.
Angell said parents should be aware that although Santa apps are fun, the location services should be turned off.
“A lot of these apps are asking for location, and all they say is ‘can you turn on the location services with this app so we can improve the accuracy for personalization,’” she said. “Once they turn on that location services on the app, now it’s their name, their picture, and their address right down to right where their house is.”
Angell said to make sure to go into settings and shut off location services for the app. She said steer clear of apps that take pictures, videos, and ask for a child’s name. She also suggests only using apps that provide a more general and less personalized experience for children.
“It becomes a big issue when you add in pictures, your name, and now your location,” Angell said. “Now they’re collecting a whole lot of data on your children.”
Angell also said to watch out for seemingly harmless games that ask children to purchase more options. She recommends password protecting purchases so only parents can access what’s bought through the iTunes or Google Play store.
“This way you kind of hold the controls of what apps they are purchasing, and you have the opportunity to check them out before they actually purchase them,” Angell said.
Angell recommends the Santa tracker app from NORAD as its generic and safe for all ages.