One in Eight American Children Have Had Their Belief in Santa Ended by the Internet

  • Online pitfalls such as search engines, online ads and social
    media are spoiling kids’ belief in Santa
  • Hide My Ass! launches “Keep Believing In Santa” campaign,
    featuring
    free
    software
    for parents that cleverly conceals any
    online content that could lead to children prematurely discerning the
    truth about Santa

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–It used to be the case that as children got older they would eventually
wise up to the truth about Santa. Perhaps they found unwrapped presents
stashed away in the attic by their parents, heard about “the great lie”
being whispered on the school playground or simply put two and two
together.

However, that was in the days before families lived much of their lives
online. According to new research* by virtual private network provider Hide
My Ass!
(HMA!), 1 in 8 (13 percent) American parents said that the
internet was responsible for their child (or children) finding out that
Santa Claus is not real.

As a result of social media, targeted advertising and the “truth” of
Santa being just a quick Google search away, the opportunities for
youngsters to stumble across the reality of Santa Claus online, whether
by accident or design, are more abundant now than ever before.

The age belief ends

The internet seems to be playing such a major role in altering
children’s Christmas beliefs that it may be contributing to driving down
the average age youngsters stop believing in Santa.

Indeed, for children born between 1997 (the year Google search launched)
and 2005 (just before Facebook opened to the public), who were between 3
and 10 years old when they stopped believing in Santa, the average age
reduced by 4 percent: from 8.05 years to 7.71 years.

This apparent downward trend is even more evident when comparing the
current age of non-believing children to the age their parents stopped
believing in Santa. Based on the results of those polled, the average
age current parents stopped believing in Santa was 8.7 years old, while
the average age children now stop believing in Santa is 7.25 years old –
a 16.6 percent reduction between the generations.

The main online culprits

Of the 13 percent of parents that pointed the finger of blame at the
internet, the most common online offender (44 percent) was performing a
Google search for Santa and clicking on a page explaining he was no more
than a merry myth. Close behind was online advertising: 34 percent of
children had their Santa suspicions raised after seeing ads online for
the very gifts they’d wished for in their letters to the North Pole.

Additionally, for about one in three (29 percent), their holiday
happiness came crashing down after reading an unfortunate tweet or
Facebook post saying that Santa is make believe. Twenty six percent
simply watched on in the background as their parents shopped online for
Christmas presents.

Reflecting the fact that this generation’s youngsters are effectively
born internet literate (and spend an average of 11.5 hours on the
internet each week) the research also shows that almost one in 10 (8
percent) children have turned cyber sleuth and looked through their
parents’ internet search history or online shopping accounts to find
evidence that mom and/or dad had procured the Christmas presents, not
Mr. Claus and his elves. Such junior detective work is obviously made
all the easier with almost two thirds (61 percent) of parents never
deleting their search history or logging out of online shopping accounts
during Christmas.

For all of these reasons it is perhaps no surprise that the overwhelming
majority of parents (91 percent) strongly believe that the internet has
made it far easier for children today to find out the truth about Santa
– and to find out earlier than they had when they were children.

Keep believing in Santa

In response to the findings, Hide My Ass! has today launched a campaign
called “Keep Believing In Santa,” which aims to help parents
navigate the online festive pitfalls threatening to prematurely put an
end to their kids’ belief in the benevolent, bearded gift giver.

At the heart of the Hide My Ass! campaign is a free piece of software
for parents that will help to protect children over the Christmas period
from the Santa-sapping potential of the internet.

Once installed on a web browser and activated, the software monitors all
online search results, web pages or social media communications that
could threaten to bring a child’s belief in Santa crashing down. The
software automatically conceals any such content with images of a jolly
Santa Claus in his grotto. It can be downloaded for free from www.hidemyass.com/keep-believing-in-santa.

In the U.S., 73 percent of parents polled noted that they’d like to see
an online feature, like this software, developed that could help
preserve the mystery of Santa Claus for their children a little bit
longer.

Cian Mckenna-Charley, marketing director at Hide My Ass!, commented: “We
all spend so much of our time on the internet nowadays that the lines
between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ aren’t just blurred, they’ve been erased
completely. Consequently, as our research shows, this constant
connectivity makes it far easier for children to discover online content
bringing Santa’s existence into question.

Not only is there a higher likelihood of the internet now being the main
source of a child’s belief in Santa ending, it can also result in
youngsters finding out sooner than for those born before the digital
era. With this campaign, we wanted to give parents an optional tool that
would allow them to maintain the magic of Christmas and the mystery of
Santa for that little bit longer.”

Santa Claus himself has issued a video appeal today urging parents to
install the software and help protect the Christmas spirit for their
little ones. This can be viewed here: www.hidemyass.com/keep-believing-in-santa.

Survey notes:

* Consumer research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Hide My Ass! in
November 2015. 2,036 U.S. parents of children born 1983 – 2013 were
polled (a total of 4,800 children). A child is being defined as aged 0 –
15 years.

About Hide My Ass!

Hide My Ass! is a leading VPN (virtual private network) provider founded
in 2005. It is now a global company based in London with offices in the
UK, Serbia and Ukraine. HideMyAss.com provides a free web proxy service
and VPN Pro, a paid-for virtual private network.

Contacts

Method Communications
Mikey Collard, 801-461-9752
mikey@methodcommunications.com