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!

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

6 Responses

  1. Deloris


  2. Marcia - Orange, CA

    Simply do not buy this “toy”. If you have it throw it away. If no one continues to buy a product, that product will eventually die.

  3. carolinmd

    I am usually in agreement with keeping government out of our lives… but this elf on the shelf fear is a bit too neurotic to take seriously.
    As a kid in the fifties, we were brought into the fantasy of Santa’s elves watching us and checking to see who was good or not…even if they were not sitting on our shelves they were peeking into windows and hiding in obscure corners ready to tell Santa who was naughty or nice. It was a great way to keep the kids excited but mindful of their behavior at the same time. It was a fun time for parents as well as the kids.
    I passed this traditions of the make believe on to my kids who also loved it and used the same play with their own children. My grandkids have had the elf on the shelf added to their Christmas expectations as an active part of their seasonal tradition and look forward to the first appearance of the elf, who is more of a friend they look forward to seeing rather than some state controlled disciplinarian who some fear is a forerunner of the evil empire of communism.
    It is the presentation of the parents that sets the mood of this holiday tradition. Please try not to see the potential of evil at every corner because that means the liberals have gotten to you and are training your thinking to become as paranoid as theirs.

  4. Roger Hector

    I believe you. I just pray for God’s guidance. We must stay focused on a single straight goal. Nothing more, nothing less.

  5. Ron

    Get the children early, they will never know the truth.
    Bring up a child, in the way “you” would have him go, and he will not depart from it. It is so easy to twist and turn a truth.

  6. Andrew

    You have got to be kidding me. To attack an entertaining behavior modification tool like “Elf on a shelf” is just another example of paranoid conspiracy theories spewed out to elicit fear among the masses. This toy is merely a fun way to keep kids thinking about their behavior. I personally can’t stand the thing due to its attachment to one of the most commercially abused and misrepresented holidays celebrated today. However to attack this, to me, is the same as attacking the theory of angels, spirit, or the Gods themselves. Humanity has been using non tangible guardians to assist in the teaching and enforcing of conscience since the birth of religion. Don’t isolate just another method you may have distaste for as anything different than already accepted doctrines.


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