You might want to think twice about putting that Elf on the Shelf this year… Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, says the common Christmas toy is conditioning children to accept the surveillance state. Having a little creature in your room who watches everything you do and reports to Santa every night sounds like the pretend version of “Big Brother” monitoring everything you do. Elf on the Shelf is not like other toys or games, Pinto says, because it blurs the lines between imagination and reality. The rules in most games apply only during “game time,” but Elf on the Shelf is always watching. Presumably it’s supposed to help kids behave well in real time, but Pinto says there’s a serious side effect: “You’re teaching (kids) a bigger lesson, which is that it’s OK for other people to spy on you and you’re not entitled to privacy,” she tells the Toronto Star. “If you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government.” The professor isn’t the only one to think this. Emma Waverman, a blogger with Today’s Parent, tells the paper, “It’s a little creepy, this idea that this elf is watching you all the time.” She doesn’t like using a threat – “nice” and “naughty” lists – to produce good behavior. “It makes the motivation to behave something that’s external,” she says. “If I’m not around or if the elf is not around, do they act crazy?” And if the government isn’t watching its citizens’ every move, won’t they break the law? Big government advocates will answer that question Yes. People can’t be trusted, so government needs to tell them what’s right, then coerce them into doing it. But this view of humanity and the role of government only degrades its people and enslaves them in totalitarian tyranny. The United States of America was created to give people the freedom to live according to the dictates of their own conscience, and the government’s role was to protect its citizens. Today, we have that all turned around. The government tries to control every area of our lives, and punishes those who disagree with its idea of “right” in various ways. The IRS scandal, the overabundance of federal regulations, tax credits for certain behavior, the control of education through Common Core – these are all examples. It’s time to tell the government to get out of our private lives – or rather, off our shelves!