Catholic Christmas is approaching. In recent years, this favorite family holiday in Western countries has been accompanied by the fashion of playing with the "Elf on the Shelf". This is a stuffed animal, a fairytale character from the children's book by Chanda Bell, who serves as the messenger of Santa Claus. He moves around the house (parents are advised to move him to a new place every day) and monitors the behavior of the children to find out who was bad and who was good. Digital professor Laura Pinto says this trend has an element of preparing children for life in a surveillance society.
The question of which of the children deserves censure at the end of the year, and which - the award, has always been. And all foreign colleagues of our Father Frost always had an abundance of sources of information. The writer Bell only adjusted the data delivery mechanism - the Elf on the shelf implicitly provokes children, tries to watch them in unexpected places in order to see the true reaction. And every night, on a regular basis, he sends information to his "boss", and a dossier is formed there.
Pinto notes that adults began to often post ironic photos of the Elf's disgrace on social networks. Parents are proud of their imagination - either he takes a bite of candy, then he paints the face of the baby in a dream. In some cases, Elf's pranks are clearly beyond the "preschool age" and are more reminiscent of scraps for horror films. And in this game of adults, children are only silent witnesses, they cannot influence the actions of the Elf, stop him. And if they join the "fun" or at least approve - they receive penalty points.
Professor Pinto sees in this analogy with spyware in smartphones, with video surveillance cameras and other surveillance tools. From childhood, people are taught to humbly accept the fact of external control, to agree with their powerlessness against the system, even in a situation of obvious provocation from faceless performers. Personal interests must be curbed, resigned, and broken - Pinto has enough evidence when parents urgently stopped playing because children developed a phobia of constant surveillance. But how many were there who insisted on continuing the "game"?