Want your children to have a tiny heart attack? Just utter the phrase "Christmas is canceled" anytime between Halloween and the actual day itself.
There’s a ton of reasons you may want to cancel Christmas. Maybe you’re worried your kids are getting the wrong idea about the holiday and consumerism. Maybe you didn’t get that Christmas bonus you were expecting. Maybe you’re covered in green fur and live in a cave with your depressed dog.
Or maybe you’re afraid that the gifts under your (flammable) tree will end up hurting your kids, spying on your home, or just making everyone fat and dumb.
Even if you’re determined to celebrate Christmas, read our reasons to cancel the holiday anyway. Maybe you can stop the horrors from ruining your holiday.
1. Hello Barbie and other internet connected toys could be spying on you
Did you hear about the big breach at VTech? Hackers were able to steal information on 6.3 million children – information that included names, genders, birthdays, and profile photos. That’s understandably terrifying for parents. It’s bad enough to have to worry about your own data being stolen, and now you have to worry about your kids’ data, too?
Plus, there was a big brouhaha over the new Mattel toy "Hello Barbie," the internet connected Barbie who will finally talk back to kids who chatter incessantly at the plastic figurine. But thanks to her internet connection, Hello Barbie is open to all sorts of attacks that previously only came with computers and phones. A third-party organization proved that attackers may be able to hack Hello Barbie to listen to your kids’ conversations, and while Mattel says no child’s information has been stolen yet, it seems inevitable.
I don’t want to seem like a Debbie Downer about this, but it’s kind of terrifying to think that your child’s SSN and identity might be stolen before they’re even old enough to open a bank account. And considering that most adults don’t take their own online security seriously, it’s easy to feel pessimistic about our kids’ data.
If you’re worried about data breaches, though, don’t just cut the internet cable and put Hello Barbie in the blender. There are real, actionable things you can do right to protect your data, plus basic security tips you can tell your kids to help them protect themselves. Check out some of our resources on identity theft and data security:
-> The Identity Theft Index: When to freak out about a stolen identity
-> What happens to a stolen Social Security Number?
-> 3 ways to create better passwords, ranked from laziest to best
2. Hoverboards are a hot gift – literally
Cheap hoverboards are burning up the market in both the US and the UK. They may also burn up your house while charging.
(Sidenote: I hate myself a little bit every time I type out the word "hoverboard." They’re not hoverboards, they’ve never been hoverboards, and they never will be hoverboards. They are scooters. Tiny, stupid, flammable scooters.)
According to major British retailers, some hoverboard manufacturers are cheaping out on charging equipment in their non-hovering scooters. Most electronics chargers have an auto-shutoff switch, which means they’ll stop pulling electricity when the battery is full. Cheap hoverboards don’t have these switches – that, combined with cheap plugs, cabling, and batteries, means that your child’s hoverboard could catch on fire if it’s plugged in for too long.
Not all hoverboards are dangerous – in fact, if you live in the UK, there’s a good chance the dangerous ones will never even make it on to store shelves. But this whole situation serves as a good lesson about hot trendy fashionable hip products: when a cheap buck can be made, a cheap buck will be made, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.
Oh, and if you’re worried about your apartment catching on fire because someone left the scooter plugged in? Christmas is the perfect time to look at renters insurance.
3. You want a drone? No way – you’ll poke someone’s eye out!
Is your kid asking for a drone for Christmas? (The ones that are basically super intense RC helicopters, not the robotic instrument of war.) Skip over it unless you want to open up a world of liability issues.
Just a few weeks ago, one of the worst consumer drone accidents happened over in Britain, when Simon Evans’ drone clipped a tree and then hit a toddler in the face. The toddler, Oscar Webb, had to have multiple eye surgeries before doctors decided that the eye needed to be removed entirely. While Webb is recovering well, this is an accident that really never should’ve happened in the first place.
Here’s the thing that’s truly scary about that story: Evans isn’t some punk kid who got a drone and was acting stupid with it. He’s an adult, and an experienced drone pilot. The worst consumer drone accident happened with someone who thought he knew what he was doing. Now imagine all of those drones in the hands of teenagers and you’ll know why I’m locking myself indoors for the next thirty years.
If you do decide to grab a high-tech drone for your kid, check out drone insurance. Drone insurance is a lot like car insurance – it’ll help you pay for damages done to your drone, but it’ll also protect you in case your drone does damage to people to property. And make sure you teach them proper drone safety – as in, don’t fly it near trees, toddlers, or me.
4. TV is making your kids fat and dumb – surprise!
Okay, so we already kind of knew TV was rotting our brains, but now scientists have confirmed it. In a study that tracked more than 3,000 people for twenty-five years, researchers found that those couch potatoes (defined here as TV addicts who rarely exercise) have lower cognitive abilities than those with better exercise and entertainment habits.
Unfortunately, not only have we hit the golden age of television, but we’ve also made it easier for our kids to watch tons and tons of TV. Kids watch TV on their phones, tablets, and computers, not to mention the TV they watch on the actual TV. And TV looks different than when you were a kid – Netflix and Hulu make it easy to binge hours of shows at a time, and when there’s nothing to watch on cable, kids just fire up YouTube instead.
So, instead of getting your kid a new tablet or Apple TV this Christmas, maybe get them a jump rope instead, or a fitness tracker, or an iPod loaded with fitness podcasts. Anything that encourages them to get up off the couch and actually move. (Maybe hang their gift from a stick in front of a treadmill?) They can watch TV again when Google makes magic sunglasses that show Netflix while you’re jogging.
5. Also earings are leaking battery acid
As if things couldn’t get any worse, our children's’ tacky, light up ear plug jewelry is leaking battery acid all over our kids’ ears and necks and what have you. The ear plugs, sold at Spencer’s Gifts, have a small battery inside that powers the light up component of the jewelry.
While the jewelry has already been recalled, let’s go over a few health tips for the holidays:
Don’t stick light-up ear plugs in your ear peircings.
Don’t stretch your ear piercings.
Luckily, if your kids do decide to make choices that eventually lead them to getting battery acid burns, they’ll be covered under your health insurance plan. If you haven’t shopped around for a 2016 health care plan yet, there’s still time to potentially save money on your health insurance next year.
If you still insist of having Christmas despite these five very good reasons to throw out the holiday completely, the least you could do is read up on how to save money this holiday season. Then you’ll at least have some money to repair the damages your gifts will undoubtedly cause.
Image: David Blackwell