Protecting your privacy from Santa tracking apps

Posted at 11:09 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 23:18:59-05

NORFOLK, Va. - We're just days away from Santa Claus coming to town, and before he gets here, kids are downloading apps to track his journey and even FaceTime him along the way.

While they may be fun to use, these innocent apps could be exposing your kids' privacy.

In order to get many of them to work, you have to give up some info. They will ask you for access to your current location, camera roll and microphone.

"What we don't want to happen would be for children who unintentionally share some of this information that we as grownups would rather keep private," Old Dominion University Associate Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Ariel Pinto said.

Pinto says he has seen parents give their kids access to an app that seems harmless, but in reality is doing much more.

He says they are gathering, storing and possibly sharing some of our household information and they're sharing it with third party companies. Those select third party companies can make a lot of money on the data.

The information can include your child's name, age and birthday. With that comes the targeted ads based off of what the creators have learned.

However, when the holidays are over and you're ready to say goodbye to Kris Kringle himself, just deleting the app isn't enough.

So, how can you make sure the information isn't living in cyberspace?

Pinto says to "look at the instructions of how [you] can request that all of our information gathered through these apps would be deleted from the cloud server."

You'll likely find that in the "parents" section.

So, before Santa Claus comes to town, make sure you check your kids' app twice.

"We can still let our children enjoy apps as long as we do it in a smart way," Pinto says.