Jimmy Kimmel helps show what happens when Christmas gift-giving norms are broken

A recent Jimmy Kimmel bit titled “I Gave My Kids a Terrible Present” exposes what happens when Christmas gift-giving norms are violated:

Judging by YouTube comments, some view the tears as an indictment of children’s materialism at Christmas. Others, including the playfully sadistic parents in some of the videos, just think it’s funny…

Some viewers have equated the tantrums of some of the children with greediness. But Lisa Wade, an assistant professor of sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, argued that while some children appear greedier than others, all are reacting to a perceived break in social rules about gifting.

“Because social rules are so complicated, when kids are little, they’re really trying to learn them, so they take them very seriously,” she said…

Some critics have called the videos cruel, as they did in November when Mr. Kimmel invited parents to pretend they had eaten all their kids’ Halloween candy. (That montage has more than 25 million YouTube views.) But, as Dr. Wade noted, learning to take a joke is another crucial social skill.

Are these the sort of sociological insights and life lessons one should share with someone else’s kids? After seeing the horrified and tearful reactions of some of these kids, would this easily get IRB approval?

Also noteworthy: giving young kids opposite gender gifts is very problematic. This hints at how quickly kids are socialized into gendered roles.

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