Monday December 22, 2014

Elf on the Shelf normalizes surveillance state for kids, says Academic

Listen 9:14

Santa knows if you've been bad or good because the Elf on the Shelf is filling him in! We hear from a Canadian academic who has some qualms with a certain new Christmas tradition.

Since debuting in 2005, six million little elves known as Elf on the Shelf have been sold in North America.

The elves are no ordinary dolls. Not only are they said to be spying on children's behaviour in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas Day, but they're reporting back to Santa on who's been naughty or nice.

It's all in the service of holiday fun... and if it results in fewer tantrums, and a few more pleases and thank yous, then what's the harm in that?

Well, to some, it reeks a little bit more of 1984 than December 25th.

Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, caused a bit of a snowstorm recently when she and Selena Nemorin -- a colleague at Australia's Monash University -- >wrote a paper suggesting that "Elf on the Shelf" may be in the service of the surveillance state.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.

Last Word goes to Santa's Elves

It was fifty years ago this season that the Christmas classic TV special "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" first aired. From a time when Elves lived at the North Pole making toys, rather than reporting to Santa... these singing Christmas Elves get today's last word.