elf on the shelf

"It sounds humorous, but we argue that if a kid is okay with this bureaucratic elf spying on them in their home, it normalizes the idea of surveillance and in the future restrictions on our privacy might be more easily accepted," says digital technology professor Laura Pinto.


Yesterday we gave Ashtyn the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ and I was surprised about how into it she was.

Names I suggested to Lindy for our elf:

  • Oprah
  • Madmartigan
  • Darth Vader
  • Marty McFly
  • Andy Dufresne

Ashtyn picked “Elfie” and Lindy agreed. Forever outnumbered -__-


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 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—Bonnie Kristian