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Talk to Santa from your dad's lap

December 18, 2008 |  2:58 pm

Kids can chat with Santa online If you don't know the Big Secret about Santa, you should probably stop reading this post. That's because 1) the Big Secret will be revealed in this post and 2) if you still don't know the Big Secret, you're probably about 4 years old and should go back to watching Barney instead of reading the tech blog.

Anyhoo... As most of us adults know, those Santas you see in malls, on TV and stuck in your chimney Christmas Eve are just some portly older gentlemen dressed up as Santa. Still, children across the country flock to malls to talk to him and tell him what they want for Christmas. Any parent that's ever stood in the Santa line on a Saturday with dozens of whining children who have to pee every five minutes knows that this whole arrangement isn't really that fun for anyone.

Finally, a solution. The video chat company Paltalk has set up a Santa's Workshop room where kids with computers and webcams can go to chat with Santa and get all their requests in from the comfort of their living room. No webcam? No problem. They'll still be able to see Santa, but he'll only be able to hear their questions, not see them ask the questions.

"It's a neat way to share the holiday spirit with kids who might not be able to go down to the mall and sit on Santa's lap," said Joel Smernoff, president and chief operating officer of New York company Paltalk.

There are about eight men from around the globe who dress up to staff the Santa room, which often has dozens of kids in it at once, Smernoff said. Up to 5,000 can fit in a chat room at once, according to Paltalk. And if that sounds like a nightmare to you parents out there, just remember, at least the bathroom is only down the hall.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Screenshot of Paltalk Santa's Workshop. Credit: Paltalk

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