EXPERTS have called for Elf on a Shelf to be canceled amid bizarre claims the beloved Christmas tradition normalizes "surveillance by authorities."
As the festive pastime goes, children are told the elf has been sent from the North Pole to their home to watch them and report their good and bad behavior back to Santa Claus.
The phenomenom is based on a 2004 book by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell and has become immensely popular across the US and Europe over the last few years.
However, apparently not seeing the fun side of the game, Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), suggested to the New York Times that the elves should be shelved for good, fearing the game sends a bad message to the millions of children who partake in it.
"I know a lot of families just see this as a fun thing, but it’s worth thinking about the messages it’s giving to children about surveillance by authorities," Stanley said.
"It's really a terrible message for kids," he continued.
"Personally, I consider success as a parent to be teaching my kids to do the right thing even when nobody is watching, whether they be from the North Pole or anywhere else.”
Incredibly, Stanley isn't alone in his beliefs, with security experts agreeing that the premise of the game sends the wrong message to kids.
"I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, but we shouldn’t be celebrating seasonal surveillance,” Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, also told the outlet.
Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, similarly espoused that children may be getting the wrong idea.
According to Fitzgerald, children must be told that "no one should be looking at you in your bedroom without consent.”
He said: “I don’t want to be the first one to take Santa Claus to court for invasion of privacy, but consent matters, and having privacy matters.
"If kids think they are always being watched, even when the watcher is a magical elf, that can have real effects on how they see themselves in the world."
Some psychologists have also charged that Elf on a Shelf encourages lying to children, raises questions about the trustworthiness of parents, and discourages children from thinking critically.
All such claims have been vehemently denied by the Lumistella Company, which owns Elf on a Shelf, who say the toy is nothing other than wholesome.
CREATORS HIT BACK
“Santa’s Scout Elves don’t just help to keep up with the Nice List; they also share with Santa how families are spreading the spirit of Christmas,” the company said in a statement.
“Many children note that their favorite moments throughout each season include waking up to see where the family’s Scout Elf has landed and the humorous scenes they sometimes set up.
"Our hope is that the Elf on the Shelf will create cheerful holiday moments and precious family memories that will last a lifetime.”
Critics have also hit back at the calls to cancel the game, blasting the experts for being overdramatic.
“Oh, give me a break. Will we not stop this stuff until every single ounce of joy & wonder is completely extinguished?” one critic bemoaned.
“Omg. Let’s create a paranoid, neurotic generation scared of everything. Of the top million things to worry about I’d put this about negative nine hundred ninety-nine thousand," a second said.
A third, referencing all the technologies families already have in their homes that can listen to them, jesting: "Alexa, does Elf on the shelf teach my children to passively accept being watched by an unseen authority figure.
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