BRISBANE, Australia, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- An Australian psychologist says smartphone apps allowing parents to send their naughty children phone calls from Santa "are not useful" and "could be abused."
Dr. John Irvine said the smartphone apps -- including the free "Fake Call From Santa" app and the $1.99 "Parents Calling Santa" app -- are "not productive" methods of behavior correction, The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, reported Wednesday.
"These kinds of apps have made the Santa threat much more real and immediate and they could be abused by some parents in the lead-up to Christmas Day," he said. "What is the point in threatening something that you are not going to carry out? Is mum really going to cancel presents on Christmas Day?
"Empty threats are not useful as kids soon realize that there are no consequences," he said.
The "Fake Call from Santa" app includes an incoming call with audio, but the "Parents Calling Santa" app allows parents to choose from three recorded messages -- a "well done call," a "could do better" call, or a "must improve or you will get a lump of coal for Christmas" call.