It turns out that the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon is a marketing scheme to exploit the myth of Santa Clause for corporate gains and to drive many parents bat-shit crazy. You see, first you have to buy a special Elf on the Shelf, which is a spy sent by Santa to infiltrate the homes of suburban children everywhere. The elf is magic, obviously, and so you can't touch him. But you know that he's being a good little spy because every morning he has moved to a new place in the house (thus, parents have to move the elf every night because lying to children and making it look like Santa ate some cookies one night a year was just not enough). And children can be sure it was the elf moving independently because no one can touch him - he's magic.
First of all, I don't hate Santa...though I do have my own internal ethical debates about lying to my someday children about him. Anyway, more to the point, this is a brilliant marketing scheme. As far as schemes go, this is the schemiest scheme I've ever come across! Not only does the elf freak your kid into being especially good because of an implied, or maybe explicit?, threat (why parents like it), but you know that all the kids with elves go to school and tell their friends, who then come home and ask for an elf of their very own to spy on them. It becomes self-perpetuating! No wonder I've never heard of this. They don't even NEED to advertise (that, or my lack of television and interest in said books has once again kept me from valuable cultural updates like shelf elfs and who Kim Kardashian is marrying/dating this week).
ANYWAY, I'll cut my rambling short and end with this. These elves are creepy, it kinda seems like work for parents, and, again, creepy.
|I watch you in your sleep...possibly while touching myself (source).|