Is tech friend or foe to Santa Claus?

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NEW YORK — Kids can video chat with Santa, follow him on Twitter or enlist NORAD to track his every move online. And yet in many ways, technology may be making it harder for parents to keep their children believing in the jolly old elf.

Practically any schoolchild can type “Is Santa real?” into Google.

“I have a love-hate relationship with technology and Santa,” said Kristi Kovalak, a mom in St. Louis. “The beauty of Santa is the not knowing. Technology is all about knowing, and knowing this instant. I swear, Google is the nemesis of the North Pole.”

Kevin Grout and his wife had a close call recently while watching a Santa Claus parade on TV with their children, ages 6, 4 and 5 months. A commercial came on for a website that creates email greetings from Santa. They switched channels just in time.

“We’re definitely in this boat, primarily with our oldest. She’s a smart cookie,” said Grout, of St. Catharines, Ontario. “It was clear to me a poor strategy to run it during a Santa Claus parade when many kids would be tuned in.”

Over at Santa.com is a menu of prices for letters from Santa. There’s a fancy one on a scroll for $19.99 and a simple postcard for nearly $3. (Mommy, why does Santa charge?)

Enter the search query “Is Santa real?” and up comes an entry on a psychology site about the dreaded question itself and how parents who are trying to keep the Santa secret live in fear this time of year.

Kyla Kelim of Fairhope, Ala., caught her oldest, a 9-year-old boy, on her iPad playing Santa sleuth a week or so ago.
“We’re so close with him this year, not believing,” she said. “He was Googling ‘Santa,’ and I saw him type the word ‘myth’ when I grabbed it and said no electronics.”

Not all parents are worried technology will destroy the magic.

Other parents, though, are finding that in some ways, it was easier to maintain the Santa myth before high-speed Internet.

When Kimberly Porrazzo’s boys, now in their 20s, were little, she and her husband jingled sleigh bells outside their kids’ bedroom windows on Christmas Eve, and Dad took to the roof to make scampering hoof sounds.

When one of the boys was still a believer at 12, she broke the news — gently — before some playground skeptic did it for her. The Lake Forest, Calif., mother turned the experience into a little book she self-published, “The Santa Secret: The Truth About Santa Claus.”

“Now, with technology, all the various opinions on whether or not he exists are more readily available to children beyond asking their parents,” she said. “It’s likely they will Google rather than asking their parents. That’s why parents need to share the secret on their terms.”

Printed on Monday, December 5, 2011 as: Technology ruining idea of Santa for kids