Santa Cams: Parents Divided Over Christmas 'Cameras' That 'Watch' Kids To Encourage Good Behaviour

'This is controlling children through fear.'

24/11/2017 10:31 GMT | Updated 24/11/2017 14:22 GMT

Parents’ opinions are split over a Christmas decoration that seems to be becoming another festive tradition for kids: the Santa Cam.

The product, sold at retailers including Aldi and The Range, is a fake camera that flashes a LED light to remind kids that Santa is “watching”.

Priced at around a fiver, the “camera” is meant to encourage children to behave as they know that Father Christmas and his elves are watching their every move.

Some parents think it’s a brilliant idea - one mum wrote on HuffPost UK Parents Facebook page: “We’ve got one, I ain’t gonna lie! No more messing around at bed time. Santa’s watching.”

However, many don’t agree with it.

“Horrible idea,” one mum wrote. “My five-year-old has already been in tears because a friend of hers got in trouble at school and she was afraid he wouldn’t get any presents when it’s Christmas.

“She gets presents because I love her, not because she meets some impossible standard of perfect behaviour.” 

ALDI
Aldi's Santa Cam.

Another mum wrote: “[This is] just controlling your children through fear and disappointment. What happens if they don’t behave, do they actually not get presents?

“What are you going to use to control their behaviour after Christmas? I was furious when my daughter’s (reception) teacher had one in class last year - should not be necessary.

“Also why take the magic out of Christmas?”

One mum said she was tempted to get one, but then had reservations: “I had second thoughts and I concluded that it is a bit cruel, and borderline creepy, to need to go to the extreme of making your child think they are on Santa’s watch 24/7.”

Agreeing, another mum commented: “These are awful, it’s such an invasion of privacy and a lack of trust in our children. I want my children to behave because they know right from wrong and are respectful and kind, not because they think Santa’s watching and they want presents.”

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Dr Rachel Andrew, a consultant clinical psychologist specialising in children and family, and director of Time Psychology, said she understands the cams are marketed as a “fun” way of managing behaviour, but feels they could raise a number of issues

“Many young children are scared of the idea of Santa - of having a stranger watch you and then come into your house - and so this cam may well raise children’s fears even further,” she said.

“In addition, this device asks parents to buy into the general idea that children need to ‘behave’ in order to get Christmas presents.

“Unfortunately, this concept usually 1) is set up in such a vague way that children do not know what we are asking of them, 2) goes on for far too long in order for it to be attainable, and 3) is unenforceable - I have never met a family who have kept all their children’s presents from them.

“If parents use it, they may undermine their own attempts at other times of the year to manage their children’s behaviour.

“Ultimately, parents relying on this cam (and Santa) to manage behaviour may be disappointed that it doesn’t yield any long-term results and that any short-term results seen are based on fear.”

Another mum, happiness coach Aimee Leigh, agreed that controlling children’s behaviour in this way could be problematic.

“If you’re trying to control your child by saying Father Christmas is watching, that instils this sense of guilt and the poor child is going to grow up constantly feeling watched,” she said.

“Children need to make mistakes, they need to behave badly - they are often just exploring, pushing boundaries, learning and growing. They need to be able to do that and know that parents’ eyes are not on them all the time.

“Kids aren’t bad. They are learning and growing, and parents should get their heads around that rather than threatening them.” 

These are awful, it’s such an invasion of privacy and a lack of trust in our children." A mum's opinion on Santa Cams.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, believed that although the “camera” is a nice way to get the kids to play along with being good at Christmas, it could undermine a parent’s relationship with their child.

“Children today are so tech savvy they’ll soon work out it isn’t real and that you’ve lied to them,” she told HuffPost UK.

“And if that isn’t bad enough, if the camera is fake, does that mean Father Christmas is fake too?

“Family budgets are stretched enough at Christmas, so do you really need to spend another fiver on a cam that doesn’t work and won’t fool a five-year-old? If you want a fun, cheap way to keep the kids behaving, then Elf on the Shelf is more effective and longer-lasting too.”

What do you think of Santa Cam? Let us know in the comments below.