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Professor: Elf on the Shelf is ‘disturbing’

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(PIX11) — It seems innocent enough: parents posing an adorable doll around the house, in an attempt to get their kids to behave before Christmas.  But a Canadian college professor and Australian researcher think the popular Elf on the Shelf is more naughty than nice.

In their paper Who's the Boss?,  professor Laura Pinto and co-author Selena Nemorin, say the toy is "disturbing" and teaches children to blindly follow authority.

Elf on the Shelf has been around since 2004, and the story goes that the doll reports kids' wishes and behavior to Santa Claus back at the North Pole.

While the elf may be part of a pre-Christmas game and might help manage children’s behaviors in the weeks leading up to the holiday, it also sets children up for dangerous, uncritical acceptance of power structures," they write.

Suspicion of the toy, which is wildly popular and fills up Facebook feeds in December, is nothing new. This week, the fact-checking website Snopes.com debunked a rumor that Elf on the Shelf was actually an espionage project run by the National Security Agency.