Parents are increasingly urged to reconsider the moral side of the Santa Claus "lie". Psychologists recently published an article in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, that warns against the promotion of the magical side in the tradition of celebrating Christmas. They noted the growing concerns of creating a permanent imbalance in the moral compass of children.
The authors of the study point out that lying to children is the dark side of the matter. Lying, even when it is intended for play and humor, reduces the trust of children in their parents, and leaves the door open for "a big disappointment" when they find out in the end that what they believed true is actually not.
A specialist in clinical psychology at the University of New England Australia, and participant in the study, Kathy McKay said: "The Santa myth is such an involved lie, such a long-lasting one, between parents and children, that if a relationship is vulnerable, this may be the final straw. If parents can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about? There is potential for children to be harmed in these lies".
The lead author of the study, Chris Boyle who is a specialist in psychology at the University of Exeter strongly warns against the use of Santa Claus as a mean to control their children's behavior by threathning that Santa will not bring them toys if they behave badly. He said "Some parents use it as a tool of control when they’re under a bit of pressure in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s potentially not the best parenting method. You’re talking about a mythical being deciding whether you’re getting presents or not."
Even before this study, other scientists raised converns about the Santa myth. In 2014, Richard Dawkins said "I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism."
Source: The Lancet Psychiatry Journal