Speed Reads

Merry Christmas?

Professor: Elf on the Shelf conditions children to accept the surveillance state

If you use an Elf on the Shelf to extort your kids into good behavior this Christmas, it may have graver consequences than sheer creepiness. So says University of Ontario Institute of Technology professor Laura Pinto, a digital technology expert who recently published a paper about the doll titled, "Who's the Boss?" Pinto explains:

What is troubling is what The Elf on the Shelf represents and normalizes: anecdotal evidence reveals that children perform an identity that is not only for caretakers, but for an external authority (The Elf on the Shelf), similar to the dynamic between citizen and authority in the context of the surveillance state. Further to this, The Elf on the Shelf website offers teacher resources, integrating into both home and school not only the brand but also tacit acceptance of being monitored and always being on one's best behavior — without question. [CCPA]

"You're teaching [children] a bigger lesson, which is that it's OK for other people to spy on you and you're not entitled to privacy," she summarized.