Should you keep your kids in the dark about Santa not being who he says he is? Who you say he is? Will Wilkinson says he will:
Well, we’re atheists. I don’t intend to proselytize atheism to my kid, because I’m not interested in getting him to believe anything in particular. What I’m interested in is teaching him how to reason in a way that maximizes his chances of hitting on the truth. Now, one of the most interesting truths about the empirical world is that there are all these powerful systems of myth that are kept afloat by a sort of mass conspiracy, and humans seem disposed to pick one from the ambient culture and take it very seriously. But it can be hard to get your head around the way it all works unless you participate in it. Santa is a perfect and relatively harmless way to introduce your child the socio-psychology of a collective delusion about the supernatural. The disillusionment that comes from the exposure to the truth about Santa breeds a general skepticism about similarly ill-founded popular beliefs in physics-defying creatures.
I say why not leave them guessing, hovering in a state of Bayesian Santa doubt? My parents never told me Santa “was real,” but they didn’t tell me he “wasn’t real” either, so I slid rather gracefully into my Santa non-belief. I don’t recall ever feeling disillusioned by a sense of loss and in fact those presents kept on coming. I even had a clearer sense of the appropriate channel for making gift requests, what’s not to like about that?
Why not teach them some Walter Benjamin early on?:
The 99-cent App “Talking Santa,” in addition to allow children to talk to an animated St.Nick, allows them to run him over with a snowball and, when the “violence” setting is turned on, slap him.
Some sociologists and child-development experts warn the technology puts the magic of Christmas in jeopardy. If children treat Santa as they would any classmate — constantly texting or calling or tweeting at him — then what makes Santa special?
Remember Smith’s diamond-water paradox, which in fact dates as far back as Galileo?
I recall sitting on Santa’s lap as a tot and being terrified by his rubber fingers (why oh why was he wearing rubber fingers? Were his real fingers scarred?). Thank goodness we have left those days behind, I would have preferred a simple text although I barely know how to do that either.