Jenna Gyimesi | Oberlin College
Modern media offers constant and oftentimes a barrage of information. But, does the internet kill innocent imagination? Many parents fear that the access their children have to internet sources may stifle their children’s ability to believe in magic, in kindness, or in miracles. Santa Clause has not been harmed by media, in fact Santa may have gained more believers because of it.
According to a survey conducted by the Huffington Post, three-quarters of American adults believed in Santa up until the age of 9. Seventy-one percent of parents with a child under the age of 10 report that their child believes Santa is responsible for the gifts they receive. The survey also found that one-fifth of children between 11 and 17 still believe in jolly St. Nick. Further, research in the Journal of Cognition Development found that around 85% of American 5-year old’s believe that Santa Clause is real. 93% of the United Kingdom’s children under 8 believe in Santa.
The internet has offered various outlets for children to engage with Santa. These websites and apps have increased Santa’s credibility and reinforced his existence. For example, children can now video chat with the man in the red suit. Video Chat with Santa requires an appointment, and a 5-minute conversation can cost up to $20. NORAD, the North Pole Tracker, locates Santa’s whereabouts throughout the month of December. The tracker is available in 7 languages. NORAD has been promoted, and publicized by the National Guard, and the U.S. Naval reserve. Kids are seeing and hearing data that suggests the existence of Santa Clause. Those beliefs are further validated by powerful groups like the military, their parents, and their peers.
So, if the internet does not diminish the belief in Santa, what can? The Journal of Cognitive Development found that the only thing that affects children’s belief in the realness of Santa Clause s how many other Santa Clause’s they had interacted with. Outlets like NORAD and Video Chat with Santa may increase interaction with Santa, but they increase interaction with one singular and technically savvy Santa.
Parents will be happy to hear that their children embody the same innocent, and whimsical belief that they held as children. Internet sources, apps, and other forms of media may only be enhancing that belief.