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The Student News Site of Brentwood High School

The Nest

The Student News Site of Brentwood High School

The Nest

The Student News Site of Brentwood High School

The Nest

Send your lists to Santa … or post them to TikTok?

Why having a merry LITTLE Christmas might be the greatest gift of all.
This+kit+is+available+at+the+Webster+Groves+Public+library%2C+where+it+comes+with+a+letter%2C+some+crayons%2C+stickers%2C+and+a+piece+of+paper+for+kids+to+write+to+Santa+what+they+want+for+Christmas%21
Emelda Forney
This kit is available at the Webster Groves Public library, where it comes with a letter, some crayons, stickers, and a piece of paper for kids to write to Santa what they want for Christmas!

It’s Christmastime once again! And ‘tis the season for colored lights, gingerbread houses, hot cocoa, and … crazy Christmas lists?

Christmas has always been an extremely commercialized holiday with stores beginning to display Christmas trees well before Halloween!

But this year, it hasn’t just been the absurdly early Christmas decor that’s garnered my attention. It’s the absurdly over-the-top Christmas lists.

Lately, while scrolling my For You page on TikTok, I’ve been hit with a barrage of videos featuring children reading their Christmas lists. Innocent, right? Sort of. Until I see a 13-year-old girl giving her parents (and the rest of the 1.1 billion TikTok users) a slideshow presentation about the six different Nike shoes she wants and the perfume that’s all the rage and the Kendra Scott necklace she must have or her world will end.

Dressed in black and red, I hold my sister, Ell Forney (9), as we open presents with my cousins at my grandparents house during our annual Christmas Eve gathering.

This is pretty shocking to me, as I grew up getting to ask for one gift from “Santa.” My family also did stockings and exchanged a couple of other gifts, but usually, it was a pretty low-key holiday for our family of six.

Unsure if this wasn’t the norm, I asked a couple of my friends about how they did Christmas when they were younger. Amelia Spencer, a senior at Brentwood, had the same experience growing up. “We had stockings and one gift from Santa,” she said. “We got a few from my parents, but often they would take us on a trip somewhere or to visit family.”

On the flip side, some of my peers came from families who went a bit more all out with the gift-giving. “I’m my grandparents’ only child on my mom’s side,” said senior Dylan Walker.  “So I get pretty spoiled by them.”

I wasn’t surprised Dylan had a big Christmas. As a kid, it’s not like I was in the dark about some families having a bigger Christmas than mine. I remember being so jealous when all my friends showed up to school after winter break with AirPods the year they came out. Yet, even the friends who had Christmas mornings straight out of Home Alone 2, what they received was meant for kids … because they were kids.

But now, I’m seeing all these middle schoolers asking for all the trendy, “been advertised on TikTok seven million times,” products, which are usually some sort of new Drunk Elephant product or Ugg slippers.

What does a seventh grader need a seven-step skincare routine for?

Whatever happened to a handwritten list with a few toys on it that was then either mailed to Santa or shared with a parent?

But more importantly, why are children currently posting these ridiculous Christmas lists online for all the world to see?

Of course, while there isn’t a simple explanation for this, there is one of many platforms responsible for the rapidly growing number of children online: TikTok

If you are unaware of TikTok in the year 2023, I don’t know where you’ve been hiding for the past couple of years. This internet phenomenon has taken the world by storm, hosting 1.1 billion monthly active users. Starting as a lip-syncing app, the app has grown in so many ways, becoming an advertising and selling powerhouse and completely reinventing the way people are going to shop online forever.

But what do I mean by that? TikTok couldn’t possibly be that big of a deal … right?

Wrong.

TikTok has morphed itself into an advertising phenomenon with its algorithm pushing videos of product advertisements and using influencers to do it. When people see someone who they relate to—whether it be a tired mom showing something that made her life easier or a teen girl raving about all the compliments she got after wearing a perfume—they tend to be more inclined to buy it.

In turn, that review is going to hit closer to home rather than watching a commercial with a voice actor reading depressing lines in an upbeat voice, like the ones you are shown when you turn on cable TV. This makes us want to buy it, which leads to some pretty random products going viral. For example, just a couple of months ago, everyone was talking about buying a certain mirror. Now, body oil is going viral. Over the summer, a car cleaning goo went viral. Most of the products that go viral are also cheap, making purchasing something a low-stress endeavor.

But what does this mean for all the kids using TikTok? These kids, who spend a lot of time mindlessly scrolling, are seeing advertisement after advertisement and creator after influencer all talking about the new must-have product.

Of course, they want it! But since they are children, they don’t have the money to buy it.

The solution?

Ask for it for Christmas. However, what they want is often not age-appropriate. Have you noticed the fashion trends among middle schoolers? I was wearing nothing that came even close to what kids are wearing now. I had nowhere near the makeup skills compared to an eighth grader right now.

Children have always been influenced, that’s something that has been proven throughout the decades. But in my opinion, never to this degree. Even I have trouble stopping myself from buying things that are advertised to me on TikTok. And now children—young and very impressionable children—are convinced they need things that just are too old for them right now.

But what do we do? How do we stop this from happening? Short answer? We can’t. In the age of the internet, things are only going to keep growing, and trying to stop change is fighting an uphill battle.

But if I ever pulled something like this with my parents, rest assured, I would get one thing and one thing only from my Christmas list no matter how long it was. And that’s what needs to happen. If we cannot stop kids from being influenced by cutting it off at the source, we need to be able to handle it appropriately when it does happen. Parents cannot feed into this culture.

And I know what you may be thinking: hey, you don’t have kids, you literally are a kid! But other adults agree. Julie Cohen, an English teacher at Brentwood, has two kids, one in first grade and one in fifth grade. “Once you go big, you have to keep going big, so I’ve tried to keep the number of Christmas presents small, focusing more on experiences rather than stuff,” said Cohen. “We are trying hard not to create spoiled, entitled children, and Christmas is something I can control!”

If you are one of these children receiving every gift on your list, regardless if they are age appropriate, hey, all power to you. You were blessed with a household able to provide that for you.

But me? I’m perfectly okay with the new pair of Converse I’m getting this year.

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About the Contributor
Emelda Forney, Editor in Chief
Emelda Forney is a senior at Brentwood High School. She loves to be outside, write, and hang out with her friends. She plays varsity soccer and is involved in STUCO and NHS. Emelda is the Editor in Chief of the Nest, and this is her fourth year on the journalism staff.    

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