For many families, the Elf on the Shelf doll is a holiday tradition — one that reminds children to evade pre-Christmas trouble.
For one professor, though, the Elf on the Shelf is “a capillary form of power that normalizes the voluntary surrender of privacy, teaching young people to blindly accept panoptic surveillance and reify hegemonic power.”
In other words, digital technology professor Laura Pinto told The Washington Post, the doll is threatening our definition of privacy and acting as “Big Brother.”
The “Elf on the Shelf” is both a book and a doll. Parents are instructed to hide the elf around the house. The accompanying book tells a story about how Santa Claus keeps tabs on who is behaving — or not.
The book describes elves hiding in children’s homes each day during the holidays to monitor their behavior before reporting back to Santa each night.
“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,” Pinto told The Post.
Despite professor Pinto’s warning, the Elf on the Shelf book sold more than 6 million copies, according to the Daily Mail.