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Is technology friend or foe of the secret of Santa Claus?

NEW YORK -- Kids can video chat with Santa, follow him on Twitter or enlist NORAD to track his every move online. And yet in many ways, technology may be making it harder for parents to keep their children believing in the jolly old elf.

At nearly every turn, the Internet threatens to blow the fat man's cover.

Practically any schoolchild can type "Is Santa real?" into Google. And just a few clicks can bring youngsters to websites that sell customized letters from the North Pole or offer advice on how Mom and Dad can fool the kids into believing in old St. Nick.

"I have a love-hate relationship with technology and Santa," said Kristi Kovalak, a mom in St. Louis. "The beauty of Santa is the not knowing. Technology is all about knowing, and knowing this instant. I swear, Google is the nemesis of the North Pole."

She embraces digital life daily but stays far away from cyber-Santa for her two boys, ages 5 and 11.

"We don't do robo-calls. We don't submit lists to Santa online. I don't have tracking apps on my phone," she said. "Too much proof means you then have to explain away when the next crazy thing contradicts it."

Kevin Grout and his wife had a close call recently while watching a Santa Claus parade on TV with their children, ages 6, 4 and 5 months. A commercial came on for a website that creates email greetings from Santa. They switched channels just in time.

"We're definitely in this boat, primarily with our oldest. She's a smart cookie," said Grout, of St. Catharines, Ontario. "It was clear to me a poor strategy to run it during a Santa Claus parade when many kids would be tuned in."