For the tech-savvy 21st-century kid, sussing out the truth about Santa is a sadly simple feat. A quick Google search provides way too much information about jolly old Saint Nick—including guides for parents on how to break the news to their kids. It's hard to imagine kids today are able to keep the magic alive at all.
And while the age at which the average child stops believing in Santa hasn't dipped dramatically in the digital age (it's still around age 8 or 9, just as it was in the 90s), if you're a concerned parent, there's now a safeguard you can put in place to keep your child a believer for a little while longer: a Keep Believing in Santa browser plugin.
The plugin hides any search results or online text referencing the fact that Santa doesn't exist. Trying to Google the truth about Father Christmas (with a phrase such as "is Santa real?") will prompt the whole screen to cut to a photo of the man in red pointing the finger at you with a scolding look on his face:
Other searches (like "Santa Claus") have some of the results blocked out, covered with the plugin's logo or images of Santa. It works on Twitter and Facebook, too.
"We like making fun stuff and we also like to make a point about privacy and internet security, so we look for ways of spreading the word in a humorous way that entertains people," said Danvers Baillieu, the chief operating officer of Hide My Ass, a VPN provider that created the plugin.
Leave it to a VPN provider—which are pretty keen on keeping things hidden—to come up with a solution to this modern problem. Hide My Ass also solicited a consumer survey to find out if the age kids stopped believing had decreased at all. Their results (from 2,036 people polled) do show a small dip, with the average age dropping from 8 to about 7.5 (slightly lower than what other surveys have found, but only by a few months of age). But Baillieu said the plugin was just for fun, and not a serious attempt at solving some scourge of non-believing children. He told me they haven't even tracked how many downloads it's had.
"It's just a bit of fun," Baillieu told me over the phone. "If it generally makes people more aware of internet security, it's done more than its job. But we're not trying to monetize it or anything stupid like that."