Bedford Co., VA - One mom in Massachusetts gave her 13-year-old son the smartphone he wanted for Christmas, but it came with a contract that says she gets his password among other things.
A local Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force took a look at the contract. They say it's fine to give kids technology, but it's the parents' responsibility to also know how to use it.
Catherine Varner has a close relationship with her 9-year-old daughter Julia.
"I got the new iPod 5, which I'd been asking for a while," said Julia from her home.
But Santa's gift came with Varner's rules.
"My password is my mom's password," said Julia.
"She knows that I have access to it at any time," said Varner.
"Password protection are the most important two words to a parent before giving a child a new Internet connected gadget like a tablet or smartphone, according to Investigator Morgan Calohan with the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
"Make sure that they understand the password's not to be changed. The parents are supposed to have, they should have access at any point in time,"said Calohan. "They tell the kids if you want this type of technology, if you want an iPad, you give me access to that iPad whenever I ask for it. If you try and hide something from me, then I take it away from you."
Better mom and dad take it than the police. Many high-tech toys go from under the tree to under investigation in a forensic lab, where investigators look for evidence in cases involving children.
"We also have made it very clear she has a limited group of people that we approve for her to communicate with via those apps," said Varner.
There is safety in smaller numbers like four digit passcodes.
Most devices are also GPS enabled. That's a good way to find a lost gadget, but parents might want to go into settings and turn the location services option. Check-ins and GPS coordinates attached to pictures are an easy way for people with bad intentions to find your kids.
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