Who Is Really Watching Your Child?

Photo credit: Lucelia Ribeiro via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I read an article recently about an assistant professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who wrote a research paper proposing that the immensely popular “Elf on the Shelf” is teaching kids that giving up privacy is “normal.” These voyeuristic little elves purportedly report back to the North Pole every night to fill in Santa on the behavior — or misbehavior as the case may be — of the elf’s assigned child. According to Assistant Professor Laura Pinto, this elf surveillance, something the big man in the red suit has been doing for centuries, will normalize NSA spying, which has also been going on for what seems like centuries.

Whilst Dr. Pinto has been analyzing the comings and goings of peeping elves, she has seemingly overlooked the very real privacy crisis being waged in our culture. More specifically, in our classrooms.

Children learn very quickly their lives are not private. Whether they completely comprehend what that means is another question. Based on what seems to be a cultural devolution, neither do their parents. From their first breath, children are powerless to maintain their own privacy. It has become customary in our culture to prolifically document our children’s every waking moment; every achievement, every embarrassment, every selfie in the drive thru lane at Starbucks, and then splash their images prominently across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a whole host of other social media platforms. Our children can barely eat an after school snack without it becoming a photo-worthy Facebook moment. Continue Reading