There’s nothing quite as exciting as being a kid during the holidays. Good presents, good food and good times with the family are all on the horizon, and fingers are crossed in the desperate hope for a snow day trip to the biggest hill in town with a sled in tow.
Although this time of year will always be marked with stockings over the fireplace and delicious cookies in the oven, kids these days get to experience the holidays in even more ways thanks to the internet. Let’s take a look at some of the best holiday-themed sites out there:
1. NORAD’s Santa Tracker
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except a computer mouse. The children were watching the screen with such care, in hopes that NORAD would catch Santa flying through the air.
Poems aside, all the best parts of the holidays culminate in Saint Nick’s annual trip around the globe to give all the good little boys and girls the gifts they’ve been dreaming of all year long. With so much excitement surrounding this event, it’s not surprising that the North American Aerospace Defense Command uses its resources to track Santa’s flight.
“NORAD uses its resources to track Santa’s flight every Christmas Eve.”
Every year, NORAD follows Santa’s journey from the North Pole and posts the results on its own website. This ritual stretches back 61 years, and actually started due to a misprint in a local newspaper. We dove into this topic in great detail last year, but if you have kids, you’ll definitely want to add this online activity to your yearly traditions. Just make sure to jump into bed before Santa Claus shows up!
2. Write a letter to Santa online
As a kid, making sure Santa knows what you want for Christmas is key.Writing a physical letter will certainly get the job done, but tech-savvy kids may want to try using the internet this year. Santa is well-known for keeping up with the times, and he has created a multitude of ways for children to get in touch..
ALetter4Santa is a fantastic service for writing letters to the big guy. This site lets you fill in your kids’ names, how good they have been as well as what they would like to see under the tree. The best part is that Santa uses magic to reply, so your children will get a response instantly.
Another great website to send a message to Santa is the service provided by The Elf on the Shelf. Although this site doesn’t have instant replies, there is a recorded message from Santa himself for the children to listen to. On top of that, this system relies on HTTPS encryption, the security benefits of which we’ve explained previously.
3. Holiday games
Although playing in the snow is guaranteed to create some wonderful holiday memories, sometimes it’s best to just stay inside with a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. For those days, PBS KIDS has an entire suite of games for your little one.
Kids have the choice to help Curious George deliver presents, play dress up with D.W. from “Arthur” or join one of countless other kid-friendly games. PBS KIDS has a deep devotion to creating entertainment that’s both educational and sensitive to the needs of children, so you won’t have to worry about what your little one is playing.
4. Arts and crafts
When your child gets off school for winter break, you know that giving them online games to play probably isn’t going to keep them occupied for long. Kids have a lot of energy, and it’s best to give them some arts and crafts they can do to keep their hands busy.
There are a lot of sites out there devoted to these kinds of projects, but Funology has some of the best holiday activities. There’s a whole page devoted to Christmas craft instructions, ranging from making a greeting card box to ornaments for the tree.
Regardless of how you and your children use the internet this holiday season, it’s important to stay safe. Check in with your kids whenever they use the computer to ensure they aren’t getting into trouble online.
On top of that, make sure your kids understand the basics of good personal cybersecurity. This includes setting up strong passwords for any accounts they create, as well as avoiding messages from strangers. We’ve already written an article about online best practices to get you off to a great start to keep your child safe while still having fun.