‘Elf on the Shelf’ trains children to accept spying, professor says

Posted at 7:55 PM, Dec 15, 2014

ONTARIO, Canada – Naughty or nice – or maybe just creepy?

Since 2005, the Elf on the Shelf has been a holiday tradition in homes. Children love seeing the little elf pop up in unexpected places. But one Canadian professor says the doll is not all fun and games — it’s teaching children to accept people spying on them.

In her paper, published in the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Laura Pinto writes, “While the elf may be part of a pre-Christmas game and might help manage children’s behaviors in the weeks leading up to the holiday, it also sets children up for dangerous, uncritical acceptance of power structures”.

Pinto argues that the children with an elf in their home, often  cater to and try to always be on their best behavior for the doll, a fictional representation of power, instead of “engaging in and honing understandings of social relationships with peers, parents, teachers, and ‘real life’ others.”

The professor tells the Toronto Star, “If you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government.”