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Big Mother Is Watching 533

theodp writes "Newsweek reports that high-schoolers are being denied the joy of ordering unhealthy lunches thanks to their schools' adoption of services like MealpayPlus. New web-based services allow moms to prepay for cafeteria food, specify what their kid can and can't buy, and go online to track his purchases." From the article: "If the child tries to buy a prohibited item, an alert flashes on the cashier's computer. Of course, the system isn't foolproof. According to a KRC Research survey, 73 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds are throwing out part of their lunches at least once a week; 36 percent are trading them." All I ever got was PB&J.
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Big Mother Is Watching

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  • by coffeeisclassy ( 991791 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:33AM (#15815464)
    If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.
  • Love and care. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <EnsilZah AT Gmail DOT com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:35AM (#15815471)
    Ah, nothing beats the love and care put into making your child's lunch... ...checklist.
  • klaxons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slothman32 ( 629113 ) <pjohnjackson@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:35AM (#15815472) Homepage Journal
    When I read "alert" I though of a loud siren.

    I wonder how they know what percentage is trading.
    I doubt the kids are going to be cooperative enough to get a valid value.

    What would be good is "dessert credits."
    When you buy enopugh good stuff you can get same bad as well.
    Well unless you are in Arizona then "desert credits" might be reasonable.
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:36AM (#15815473) Homepage
    When your in school, you're already bound by what you can and can't say, write, hear and wear. That said, why not just serve only HEATHY food in the first place!!! Now that would be something worthy of enforcing.

    The amount of porkers I see in the malls these days scare me! Their shit diet is going to cost society massive amounts in health care!
  • by Kelnor ( 990866 ) <contact&kelnor,de> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:40AM (#15815490)
    But its a lot easier for parents to just fill out a checklist than to teach their children some lessons about healthy food and the right amount of sport to compensate fast food. Its like TV, why raising your kids by yourself if the little friend from Panasonic can do it also
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:42AM (#15815493) Homepage Journal
    You have way too much confidence in high school kids. Let's face it, they are still kids.

    I don't see what's so wrong with this. As long as the kids live at home, the parents should have a say in what the kids eat, what they wear and so on. If this system helps in achieving that goal, good. Another example is a parent who buys a cell phone to a kid on the condition that a) the kid carries it with him when he's out with his friends and b) answers the parent's call or at least calls back ASAP. Overprotective? I don't think so. Just common sense.

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:44AM (#15815498) Journal
    Too much is made about child's rights and too little is spoken about dubious advertising for unhealthy food items. In Japan, there is a huge promotional campaign to get kids eat Whale Meat for Lunch!

    Obesity in kids is the no. 1 health problem facing the US today, and if parents can have a say on what their kids can order, it's great! The choice is between listening to one's parents and listening to (untrulthful) advertisemsnts. Parents ought to know better.

    As usual, the title Big Mother is misleading and mischevous. Parents watching their children cannot be equated to the Government spying on citizens. The former is a duty, the latter is a violation of rights to privacy.

    Too bad, Slashdot is resorting to Flamebait to ensure more replies.
  • Great, another tax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:45AM (#15815505)
    MealpayPlus doesn't charge for its system; it makes money on transaction fees when parents put money on kids' accounts.

    If this is like some offices, you can't pay in case (article doesn't specify). Approach the counter without a card and you're just met by a queer look from the cashier.

    The site says it's a flat $2.00 fee per transactions. Now you're torn between a 1% tax to give the kid a whopping $200 on the card (max) or a 10% tax if you just give them a benjamin every few days.
  • by nude-fox ( 981081 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:46AM (#15815507)
    but then your child ends up stunted do you really want to control everything your child does in his life and when he/she is 18 just shove him out the door and say have fun in real life he will be tottally unprepared for it so yes it is overpretective i'm sorry but people need to make their own mistakes growing up and then feel the consequences of those mistakes you cant protect your child from the big bad boogeyman that is real life forever
  • by hawkeye_82 ( 845771 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:46AM (#15815511) Journal
    Their shit diet is going to cost society massive amounts in health care!

    Thats OK. Considering they're probably paying a buck-fifty for the shit that they eat, they'll surely have a lot of money left over for their healthcare.

  • by ItsIllak ( 95786 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:47AM (#15815515) Homepage
    Can't help thinking you're not a parent. Our consumer culture runs with guns blazing towards kids. They're easy targets. To just about any age, but more universally in the young, choices are made on a "what I want now" basis, rather than "what's good for me".

    In England, we're finally cleaning up our school meal system so that kids aren't being fed complete crap. The ideal is to remove all the rubbish from the available choices, but failing that, some way of making sure that our kids are given restricted choice is about the only control we're ever going to get when kids are out of our direct care.
  • Re:once again (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:47AM (#15815519)
    Why not forbid them to leave the school grounds, and only serve healthy food?
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:54AM (#15815544) Homepage Journal
    Oh, so the kids should be allowed to get fat and develop health problems like diabetes, BEFORE the parents should be allowed to say something?

    Bollocks. Preventing obesity is a good reason to monitor what your kids eat.

  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:56AM (#15815549) Homepage
    In Finland school lunches are free. Not only are they free, but kids get a healthy meal including fresh vegetables and often fruit every single day, bread and milk is included as well. Everyone eats the same meal, including the teachers. The only exceptions are people with allergies / ethic issues (vegetarians etc). You're free not to eat if you don't like the food, of course.

    I strongly believe that good eating habits at an early age is paramount for learning a healthy lifestyle. One can have many opinions of socialistic solutions, but when it comes to nutrition and education I'm all for it. Having seen the muck english school kids have to eat I'm rather grateful I was born in Finland.

    My 2 cents, anyway.
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:57AM (#15815553) Homepage Journal
    A fine sentiment, but health is something that kids should not be allowed to make mistakes with.
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:59AM (#15815558) Journal
    If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.

    Insightful? Okay, let's see some equivalents:

    1. If you feel the need to control what your elected President decides, despite the checks and balances in the political system, then your country has already failed as a Democracy.

    2. If you cannot legally play your DVDs without surrendering your rights, your laws are already screwed up.

    3. If your child can succumb to false advertising, and becomes unhealthy, you must calmly accept it without doing anything about it.

    4. If your child cannot surf the 'net without getting exposed to adult content, you must quietly accept the situation, or pay through your nose to do something about it.

    Incidentally, at the end of the linked MSNBC article, there was an ad titled "Intimate Dating" featuring a topless lass in between sheets. I wonder why so much fuss is made about proper parental control, when we cannot control so many things we ought to be able to, in a democracy.

    Such articles equating parental control to Big Brother is actually a dis-service to those righteous, caring parents who would actually take a stand to achieve something.
  • by Loligo ( 12021 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:59AM (#15815561) Homepage

    I hear so many people talk about how Americans eat too much, how kids are too fat, and how it's always the parents' fault if a kid is fat.

    Now here's a way for parents to control what their kids eat, and people are screaming about how it's invasive and controlling.

    Screw you guys. If you're gonna play two sides of an issue, at least seperate it by a few degress, don't sit here and say how it's wrong for parents to let their kids eat crap and then say it's wrong for parents to NOT let their kids eat crap.


  • by walnutmon ( 988223 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:06AM (#15815583)
    I understand your concern for the kids... I really do. It is very difficult to watch a kid screw up. However, it is the ability to make mistakes, and deal with freedom, with occasional wisdom that creates adults who are independent and powerful. Our society is so over protected and soft that it is getting scary.
  • by rsidd ( 6328 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:19AM (#15815629)
    The ideal is to remove all the rubbish from the available choices, but failing that,

    I don't get it -- why should that fail? Why should a school feed kids rubbish? In an ideal setup there would be no need for moms to monitor what kids eat, because the school wouldn't be feeding them junk. (I live in India and the schools aren't yet MacDonaldised.)

  • by Gli7ch ( 954537 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:25AM (#15815654)

    "A fine sentiment, but health is something that kids should not be allowed to make mistakes with."

    Bullshit. Kids should do whatever they want as long as they're not hurting anyone else. How are people going to grow up at all if they're "mothered" every step of the way until they're 18. As a teenager I knew what was good and what was bad for me, but I did things that were "bad" for me because I "enjoyed" them. I ate junk food and played video games, and I still do. But I'm not an obese failure, and if I was, I'd have no one to blame but myself, and if a teenager can't handle that, they're in for a rude shock when they get into the real world.

    Also, cafeteria food tastes like crap regardless. Parents, if you want kids to stop eating junk, feed them some real food. A few generations before us kids and parents had no concept of low fat or low carb "diets", but they're weren't obese. You know why? Because they didn't eat fast food at all. If all your kids will eat is crap and they're overweight, feed them some food that didn't come from a foil packet - eventually they'll realise that a pasta with a light tomato sauce or a vegetable curry with a million kinds of vitamins beats the everloving snot out of MacDonalds or microwavable Salsbury steak.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:26AM (#15815656)
    1. If you feel the need to control what your elected President decides, despite the checks and balances in the political system, then your country has already failed as a Democracy.

    That's right. In a real democracy, the President should do whatever he was elected for, and do whatever the majority needs.

    2. If you cannot legally play your DVDs without surrendering your rights, your laws are already screwed up."

    That's right. We can't just do nothing to preserve our freedom.

    3. If your child can succumb to false advertising, and becomes unhealthy, you must calmly accept it without doing anything about it."

    No, you're wrong. In fact, i think not-healthy food should be PROHIBITED by law.

    4. If your child cannot surf the 'net without getting exposed to adult content, you must quietly accept the situation, or pay through your nose to do something about it."

    That's right. I'm tired of this "think of the children" faggot pretext to censorship of the web. Childs have NO BUSINESS with internet. If you let your child use internet, that's your problem.
  • by teh kurisu ( 701097 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:26AM (#15815660) Homepage
    Experimenting with drugs is not a sign of maturity.
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:27AM (#15815662) Homepage Journal
    Trust isn't free even between a parent and a child - it should be earned.

    Look. I was kid once, too, and I know that good intentions go out of the window when the peer pressure to do stupid shit gets too high. Having a control mechanism like this may actually help the kid to resist the pressure, because the decision is out of his hands.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:28AM (#15815666)
    Someone had to work and pay taxes for that "free lunch". Contrary to what your local Socialist Indoctrinator says, it just didn't spring out from a magical "lunch machine".
  • by Flounder ( 42112 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:30AM (#15815669)
    Many kids experiment with drugs in high school, but yet they're not considered 'mature' enough to decide what they want to eat?

    What kind of backwoods logic is this? They're not mature enough to experiment with drugs either. There's a time and a place for that sort of thing. College.

    We're talking about high schoolers here. If they want to buy junk food, then they can get a job and pay for it themselves. This program is about the parents deciding how THEIR money should be spent.

    Raising kids is tough, but if you honestly need to control a high-schooler's diet, you definitely need a little help in the parenting department.

    Why do I get the feeling you don't have kids.

  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:30AM (#15815670) Homepage Journal
    Did the US implement some communist national health-care when I wasn't looking?

    Nope. You'll just pay for it in the form of higher insurance costs. You and everybody else, for that matter.

  • "Moms"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BarryNorton ( 778694 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:36AM (#15815683)
    Fathers can't participate in this process then?
  • by kdemetter ( 965669 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:37AM (#15815688)
    I disagree

    when childeren go trough puberty , they experiment with all kinds of things , it's a part of discovering themselves .
    And the more you deny them to experiment , the more they will resist this .

    Of course , drugs is more of a problem because it's addicitive.

    The system is wrong , because it's not neccesary .

    The right way of workings is to let them discover things themselves , experiment with it , and let them draw conclusions of what's good and bad . That's the best way they will learn .

    And the more you try to restrict them , the more they will want to try it .

    you may get somethingh like this : one child has a parent who doesn't care what the child eats , he buys all the food for those who are not allowed to eat it , and he asks a higher prize for it .

    Kids are not stupid , you know .
  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:44AM (#15815702)
    There is no obesity problem.

    The truth is, there are skinny six-year-olds who think they are too fat, and Anorexia Nervosa has been diagnosed in boys.

    What there is, however, is a government desperately angling to slap a tax on food.

    This talk of an "obesity epidemic" is a blatant attempt to whip up the Daily Mail readers {none of whom personally know anybody who is over- or underweight, and would not consider it a problem if they did, but they do see images of overweight people, who clearly have less money than they do, on Sky TV} into a frenzy, running around like headless chickens demanding for Something To Be Done. And when the "ordinary" people call for it, the Chancellor will hold up his tatty red briefcase and announce VAT on certain, "unhealthy" foodstuffs. Not, of course, the sort of foodstuffs the Daily Mail readers eat. And the Daily Mail readers will be satisfied. The Sun will be given a new story {most probably involving minor celebrities or paedophiles} to divert attention from the new tax.

    However, once the scope of VAT is broadened, it never, ever narrows. Following a panning by the press after the initial announcement in the March budget, the bad news will have been sufficiently well buried by the November budget for the "VAT on food" experiment to be trumpeted as a success, and an intention will be announced to extend it. Pretty soon, the Daily Mail readers will find 22.5% VAT on their saumon en croûte and mange tout.

    It's all about money. It's not even really about power as an end in its own right; this concept certainly does exist, but often is just a side-effect of the unfortunate human tendency to conflate means with ends. Power is always initially a means to some end, often a noble one, but eventually the means becomes more important than the end.
  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:51AM (#15815713) Homepage Journal
    Even in High School. If you're a parent and you eat junk or have junk in your home, ie: buy it for your kids or have it around for 'snacking' then you're responsible for your child's bad eating habits. You want your kids to eat right? Keep good healthy food in your home...

    Fresh vegetables and fruit.... once a week buy fresh stuff and put it out where it can be seen... fruits in a bowl and vegetables on display, both in fridge and on counter in a nice container or basket. Pre-make good salads... don't keep them in the pre-mixed bag you buy them in.. put them in a nice salad bowl that has a freshness feature (clay to keep moist but also has holes in bottom and sides to let extra moisture out... and add in some extras, carrot slivers, almonds, cranberries, etc. make them look tasty... if you eat meat add some hard-boiled egg white slices and turkey chunks

    Make good meals and stick them in the fridge as instant left-overs. These will be cheaper and better than a frozen dinner (less preservatives, etc.) and your teen will actually eat them, cause they can grab them late at night or whenever and heat them up on their own schedule, instead of grabbing a bag of chips or something.

    Easy pre-made meals: Lasagna or any Pasta dish, Stir-Fry, Burritos, Taco ingredients, Pre-made sandwiches and wraps, Roasts that can be sliced into cold-cuts (teen-age boys love cutting stuff and they'll just slice off a hunk and grab some cheese and bread), hard-boiled eggs (peeled or not), sliced up veggies (carrot sticks, cucumbers, brockley, etc.) with a good dip (humus or veggie/cream cheese is great).

    This might not sound like health-food but compared to the crap they'd stuff their faces with (think any fast-food or junk from convenience store) it's completely healthy and they'll eat it if it's made convenient for them.

    In the end you'll find that they will end up looking for similar foods when they are out of the house too. They might even end up taking their lunches to school because the food that's available at home is so much better than the crap at school... but let them keep their 'lunch money' as a reward or else they'll stop taking their lunch just to get the money so they can spend it on other things... who cares what,

    Point is they'll be healthier and it will only take a few hours a week on your part to make the food available in a appetizing form that's also convenient.

    BTW same thing applies to drinks... get rid of the canned sodas.. just put some pitchers of old-fahioned lemonade (cut the sugar down) and Iced tea and juice and plenty of water bottles.

    They'll still have some junk in their diet when out with friends but they won't be creating a habit while at home and the reality is that we all really spend the longest part of our 24 hour day at home... so make it a healthy one and you'll have healthy kids.

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:52AM (#15815715)
    Overprotective? I don't think so. Just common sense.

    Jesus, all of a sudden I'm glad I'm old and don't have to grow up with this crap. Admiral Farragut was given his first command (a prize ship) during the War of 1812 when he was twelve years old. He not only brought the ship to port successfully, but had to put down a threatend armed revolt by the ship's original captain to do it.

    If high school kids today are such kids that they can't even be trusted to buy their own lunch (when many of them are actually old enough to leave home) the only possible reason for it is . . .High School. They've been taught incompetence.

    The "repressed" 50s look like Shangri-fucking-La in comparison.

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:52AM (#15815716)
    If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.

    Nonsense - if anything it is the 'system', capitalism, the 'free' market if you like, that is not only failing, but betraying us, especially the young, who are not only the most vulnerable. but also our future.

    So how is it the fault of 'the system', you may ask. Simple: the system allows ruthless, predatory companies to market junk food and other unhealthy 'lifestyle items', and they go directly after the children and young, who are most inexperienced and therefore easiest to subvert with lies that an adult would look right through. And by doing so, they seduce the new generations into a lifestyle that threathens the health of the entire population - one just has to look around on the swollen, misshaped bodies of the larger part of the American population nowadays to see what I mean. And how can anybody call that anything else but betrayal?

    America is on high alert for 'terrorists', 'threats' and 'traitors', but the real traitors are the ones that are willing to slowly steal away the health of the common people; it doesn't make it any better that they are traitors simply out of greed - not because they believe intensely in some idea or religion, but because they are greedy after money they don't even need. I mean, if you already own millions or billions, do you actually need more?
  • by Celebpod ( 778668 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:01AM (#15815732) Homepage
    Seriously, we communists in Sweden do know that taxes pay our school lunches, our healthcare and a shitload of more stuff. But the fact is (and this is the part that the allknowing capitalist gods of the west have a real trouble understanding), it all evens out. Our kids, being fed healthy food prepared on site with vegetables from the farm next door and good old 3% cow milk actually turn out better than little Tubby McLard praying at the McDonalds altar over there. When ther grow up they perform better at their work, they have less need for health care (The tax paid one, remember) and it actually turns out you become a happier person it you eat healthy and leave the car in the garage once in a while.
    Our school lunches are free in the sense that we actually save money providing them, not now but when the kids eating them grow up. I bet you our school lunches actually costs less per student, staff sallaries included compared to what the american fast food-kid eats. That being not just the kids official lunch meal but also whatever he/she consumes before and after lunch to make it untill dinner.
    Us communists over here may dislike gas-taxes(a bit over 200%) and other things that really burn a hole in our wallets, but the taxes that pay the school lunches are pure financial gain for us and our country in the long run.
  • by laparel ( 930257 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:10AM (#15815753)
    Is it that bad in schools these days that if you let your child choose his own meals he'd end up obese? If it is then the problem is in the school's menu. We are teenagers but that doesn't mean we don't watch our health/well being. Everybody wants to look good and presentable, _especially_ in highschool... Besides, if a kid does ends up on Obese II/III - a real cause of alarm - I doubt it was because of the meals he choose at school. I'd watch out his/her food intake at home.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:22AM (#15815776)
    I'm sorry but that's just not true, there is an obesity epidemic in this country.

    the sunshine vacation states like cali and florida have a larger quantity of thin people, but you live someplace like texas, or georgia, or michigan, there are tons of fat flabby bastards walking around, they make up 60% or more of the population, and just looking at them damages your eyes and makes you scream in pain.
    I want to see this tackled, if for no other reason than to see more thin women rather than houses and cars with feet walking around.

    That said, it's not going to be enforced by "food DRM"... you have to teach healthy dietary habits and healthy activities to your kids.

    You dont have to deny them or yourself the foods you like, even junk foods, but you can't eat 5lb of grease every meal.. For those of you who are thin and can't comprehend how people can get so fat, the "stop eating" people are right.. watch those body challenge weightloss shows on discovery health, it provides graphic illustration of their eating habits.
  • by shotgunefx ( 239460 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:53AM (#15815849) Journal
    Yes and no. Some autonomy is good. How much should depend on how much the child has earned. Letting kids do whatever they want is bad, not letting them do anything is bad too.

    It's a balance. You can't micromanage every second of a kid's life and then expect him magically to be able to deal with the real world. But a lot of kids, if they were allowed to do whatever they felt like would end up in the gutter or worse.

  • by masklinn ( 823351 ) <slashdot DOT org AT masklinn DOT net> on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:56AM (#15815861)

    Trust isn't free even between a parent and a child - it should be earned.

    That's so stupid it hurts. Trust shouldn't be free between peers, but it should be the default between parents and children, if the parents never trust their children their children will never grow to trust them.

  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:10AM (#15815906) Homepage
    "I think experimenting with drugs is a sign of maturity."

    I think it's a sign of complete lack of common sense. Access matters. Temptations matter. People are not all that strong-willed, often we have conflicting desires. Imagine we had a more flexible payment system, where you could put in a block in your paycard to prevent yourself from gambling, buying fast-food etc. Do you think people would have used it? Do you think it would have helped? My answer is: of COURSE it would!

    Basically, this is the same thing. I'd say it would have to be done in cooperation with the kids to be effective (else they would go around it), but I'm quite certain that kids know, on some level, that fast food is bad for them. Why not give that knowledge a little help in standing up to all the other impulses that rage around in our brains and bodies?
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:10AM (#15815907) Journal
    You, on the other hand, have too much confidence that the parents won't be control freaks. "Over-protective" doesn't sound that bad until you end up basically in a straitjacket of motherly love that crushes the life and sanity out of you. Don't underestimate how much "over" there can be in "overprotective."

    The last time such a system was discussed on /. it contained such gems as one mother getting horrified and confronting her daughter because... said daughter had bought 3 ounces of juice to wash down the food with. "Noooo! Think of all the calories in 3 ounces of juice!" Not an exact quote, but the same idea.

    To start with the _lesser_ problem, she was trying to raise her daughter as... what? An Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder case? Yes, obesity is bad, but if you're at the point where you count the few calories in a quarter of a cup of juice, do yourself a favour and kill yourself. We're not talking buying a big bottle of Coke, we're not talking even a can, we're talking 3 ounces. Of juice.

    Moving a bit upwards on the scale, such a remotely-controlled kid will grow to be completely unprepared for life. They never were trusted with making a decision of their own, and seeing the results, so they (A) just don't know what to do when mommy isn't around to remote-control them, and (B) completely lack the data to base a decision on. Playing and exploration in childhood are learning. Someone who has grown up with mommy taking all their decisions for them, hasn't learned anything.

    I know I basically went off guidance as every time I was out of reach of my control-freak parents. I ended up in an alcoholic coma in one of the few summer camps where they didn't tag along, as well as doing a thousand other stupid things. Partially because it was one occasion to vent all that built-up frustration of being little more than a remote-controlled puppet to my parents the rest of the time. But in retrospect the largest part was the aspect that I just had no freaking clue how to function without them remote-controlling me.

    Even after finishing college and moving away, it was like running into a brick wall as learning curves go. Without mom telling me what to do and when to do it, I suddenly had no flipping clue what _am_ I supposed to do and when. It took some rediscovering from scratch how to even function as an adult. (In all fairness, mom still tries to remote-control me. She'd be more than happy to still tell me exactly what and when to do, but at that point I had decided to at least try functioning as myself for a change.)

    But maybe more important is the psychological damage. Kids like adults (and like most animals, including your dog and cat) need some breathing space. Even the most affectionate lap cat needs its moments of being alone or doing its own thing, or it will go neurotic.

    E.g., I only have to look at my brother who at one point had a fit of anorexia over my parents complete control over his food. At one point as a kid he just stopped eating, and eventually ended up in hospital. They even ran all sorts of medical tests on him, because they suspected cancer the way he was losing weight. He was basically deflating as fast as, well, someone who doesn't eat at all any more. I can easily see that possibility in the future of such kid as the girl with her 3 ounces of juice.

    I managed to do somewhat better (or at least not swing to such extremes), partially by finding refuge in programming, partially by cherishing the moments I was finally out of my family's reach. I certainly didn't hate school too much. I actually had more freedom there than at home. Still, I ended up with some long term damage of my own anyway.

    E.g., I basically have to roll for willpower (if I'm allowed the D&D metaphor) to do anything, because some circuit in the back of the brain says "you know, mom would disapprove of me doing that. Or doing it that way." And I don't mean doing bad stuff, but even stuff like taking the trash out. Mom would certainly find something to complain
  • by Gli7ch ( 954537 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:23AM (#15815946)

    "Dont blame it all on fast food - that would not be a problem if the kids got exercise (that does not mean they have to take an arobics class, it means they should do something that is hard and makes them sweat)."

    You're totally right. That's another thing kids did a couple of generations ago that they don't do now. The problem is the social stigma of people with less ability or lower fitness exercising. I rode my bike to school every day, my friends (all nerds) did jogging, training, roller hockey, a whole bunch of crap. A couple were even trampolinists, a bunch of them got really into dance dance revolution. We learned to enjoy getting active because we all found places we could do it where it didn't matter how good at it we were, as long as we gave it a shot. Most high schools don't have that mentality. Less active kids will suffer unending jeers and taunts from "Jocks" and so forth, and this could be really damaging to someone's psyche, leading to an avoidance of all physical activity.

    By the time you're a teenager, parents can't really do much to set you on an active or "healthy" path. You have to set yourself on it, and once there a parent can encourage you, but that's about it.

  • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:30AM (#15815961) Journal
    Ugh... I have to respond to this utter bull, even though it's late(early?) It's funny how the "skool suks, down wit da man!" bias of Slashdot can mod up even the most ridiculous of posts.

    Are you saying you grew up in the 1800s? Remembering your childhood, are you?

    Saying that we should expect our 12-year olds to command navy ships and that it's a failure of society when they can't is so utterly retarded I don't know where to begin.

    First off, the incident you describe would have been rather unusual back then. I don't think there was an expectation that most 12-year olds would be able to perform such a task. In that era, most of them would have been farm boys who didn't command anything.

    The kids of that era also would have had lunch made by... mom. The fact that kids have to have some written directive from parents to control what they eat only shows the relative freedom kids have in consumer choice, for good or bad. Kids of the 19th century would have had more parental control over their diet, not less.

    You think kids would be supermen or full adults were it not for our evil educational system? Hah. Keep on dreaming.
  • by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:33AM (#15815969)
    As a parent you need to find the fine line where to stop controling. Sure, there are some area where experimentation must be strickly understood and respected by the kid.

    Like unprotected sex, drugs, eating whatever crap when you are diabetic, crime, ... those area are not open to experimentation. Experimentation there will likely screw up your life far deeper than the little pleasure or "cool factor" they give you now.

    Off course, using a kind of automated system like here is a bit in contradiction with the fact that those limits must be "understood" as I said before. If your kids don't know there is some danger in that direction, they will find a way to overcome it.
    On the other hand, that can a usefull tool for kids with specific deseases and avoid stupid mistakes ( e.g. I have a friend critically to eggs and he made some stupid mistake (i.e. not intentionally) while younger )
  • Just Say No? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greenhide ( 597777 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:35AM (#15815975)
    I'd say the problem is they're treating this as a supply problem rather than a demand problem: if you deny them the bad food, then they'll eat healthier.

    But kids, especially resourceful high school kids, will figure out a way to get the food they want to eat. This is a demand problem. You need to focus on changing how kids feel about eating healthy food.

    It's up to parents to raise their kids from an early age to enjoy food that's good for them. I know so many people may age or younger who don't care for vegetables, only like white bread, and think of fries as a vegetable.

    From a young age, my parents forced healthy food on me. Although occasionally I was miserable and felt deprived, most of the time I greatly enjoyed the food I ate despite being "healthy".

    In a sense, this is a supply problem being tackled too late. You need to have your house stocked with healthy food at an early age when the child is developing their food preferences, *not* when they're already in high school and set in their ways.

    It's a shame that these parents are waiting until middle or high school to control their kids in this way. It suggests a lack of trust, and it also suggests that if the kid is unwilling or unlikely to make healthy food choices voluntarily.

    Probably the best step would be to limit their budget for school food, but let them get whatever they want. Instead, focus on getting them to have a larger breakfast before they leave, and a larger dinner when they get home, minimizing the food they eat at school. Parents can easily control the food available at home so long as the child doesn't yet have the funds or wherewithal to do their own grocery shopping.

    In a sense, this is what happened to me. Years of candy deprivation means it was the first thing I went for when I had my own spending money in high school. But because my funds were limited (around $5-6 per week or so, I think) I had to make my own lunch at home, and used all my money on candy or soft drinks. When I got home, there generally weren't easy snacks available, and we didn't have much in the way of frozen dinners (or a microwave), so I was forced to cook something for myself if I wanted to eat something before dinner (and on nights when my parents were busy, I'd have to cook dinenr). This had two benefits: one, it meant that I was eating food that was relatively healthy (at worst, "fast food" meant opening a can of vegetable soup) and two that I was learning to cook, something which is not encouraged enough I think.

    Sorry this comment is so long but I did not have time to write a shorter one.
  • by grimJester ( 890090 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:36AM (#15815979)
    One can have many opinions of socialistic solutions, but when it comes to nutrition and education I'm all for it.

    Another Finn here, happily paying taxes right now so the next kid can get the free education and healthy meals I got when I was in his place. I'm all for free markets, but seven-year-olds haven't had a chance to work for the money to pay for their education and having rich parents is not a choice.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:42AM (#15816004)
    Yes, YOU are a parent.

    What worries me is that so many parents are not.
  • Re:The solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greenhide ( 597777 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:43AM (#15816007)
    In fact, why not make it so school lunches are 100% free, limit one per student per day, if all the food there is healthy.

    Two reasons:
    1. It's more expensive to make and sell healthy food, and the profit margins are lower. A pound of french fries costs a lot less to prepare than the equivalent amount of brocolli, but kids would probably pay more for the fries than the broccoli. In the US at least, so long as education in general is underfunded I don't see funds being expanded into school food offerings. In fact (although this trend may now be on the decline), a lot of schools moved to privatization, allowing Pizza Hut and similar companies to be placed right on the school; not only does Pizza Hut get to make money, but they pay the school for the right to be there. The school doesn't have to cover the costs of food anymore *and* gets a nice check.
    2. Americans have a very odd relationship with control. Although they don't mind the idea of parents having near draconian control over their own children, they bristle at the merest mention of the federal government "telling them what to do", *especially*, it seems, when the government is trying to tell them what's "better" for them.

    This is part of the "ignore something until it's a catastrophe" mindset that is not at all unique to America and indeed is widespread. If I remember my statistics 1 in every 5 dollars in the US is spent on healthcare. If we all just ate healthier and exercised, that proportion would be much lower. But even though it would mean an overall saving, people are reluctant to let funds go towards things like improving the overall general health and diet of the country.
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:51AM (#15816027) Homepage
    Then maybe the answer is making healthy lunches enjoyable.

    Kids have different tastes than adults, most of us are well-aware our own taste has changed over the years. Fast food chains get it, why can't the people who make healthy food understand this simple fact and start preparing meals the way kids would actually like them. Yes, that may mean adding a bit more fat or sugar than "none", but atleast it would be a lot better than what they buy now.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:01AM (#15816053)
    Face it. No law parents set up a child does not understand will be broken. Period. That starts with "don't go to construction sites" (without giving a reason why not to) and does not even end at "you won't go out with Jonny Sleazebag". Kids break through Net Nanny, they sneak out while under house arrest, they disable parental control on the remote.

    Why should something like this work? Kids will trade their lunch with kids who can buy "normal" food, or they will pay those kids who do (and get ripped off too). Kids will leave school for some burger restaurant during lunch break, and if that isn't allowed, they will sneak out. Oh, the threat of being suspended? Hell, where do I sign to be thrown out of school!

    Face it parents: You can't force your kids to do what they don't understand. Also, it's kinda hard to understand for Jonny why he should eat his broccoly and drink his healthy water while mom and dad are guzzling down greaseballs with root beer.
  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:02AM (#15816054) Journal
    If you think that the human species was always based on babysitting your kid until the age of 21, sad to say, you're the one on the "utter bull" side.

    For starters, for a large portion of the human history (in fact, for _the_ largest portion), the average life expectancy was in the 30 to 40 years range. Yes, literally. The life expectancy in ancient Egypt for example was in the low 30's. In the European middle ages and renaissance it wasn't much better, since they had very high mortality. In fact, all medieval cities had such high mortality (because of being filthy disease-ridden places) that they needed a constant influx of peasants moving in just to maintain their size. So, again, the average person would have a really really shitty life expectancy.

    So pay attention: you wouln't have _time_ to babysit them until 21. If you got married at 21, took a year to get your first kid, and then babysat him to 21, that's a total of 43 years. Add a few tries, because of the extremely high infant mortality, and you'd end up needing some 50 years for such a bullshit babysitting utopia. It's more than 50% more than the actual life expectancy you'd have.

    So for most of the human history, at 12 to 14 years old you'd be considered _adults_. At that age you'd be expected to get married, run a business, fight in a war, or, yes, maybe command a ship or an army. There were a lot of kings, nobles, generals, etc, who ruled a country or led its troops in battle at that age. There were decisions which changed history, at least on a local level, taken at that age.

    Thinking that they always had mommy pack their lunch and check if they wear a sweater at that age... heh... to quote your own words: "is so utterly retarded I don't know where to begin."

    So, yes, if you're trying to tell me that a modern 14 year old can't can't even decide what to buy without mommy deciding for them, then, yes, there must be something awfully wrong with the current crop of kids. Because "kids" of that age are what throughout most of human history were the _adults_, and perfectly capable of functioning as adults.

    Or maybe, just maybe, it's not the kids, but their parents who are retarded. Just a thought. Maybe the kid would be perfectly capable of taking a mature and responsible decision, if mommy and daddy had taken the time to give him the data and the opportunity for those decisions, instead of just controlling what the kid does.
  • by Diamon ( 13013 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:47AM (#15816173)
    We had a similar system when I was in school ages ago, it was called carrying your lunch. Mom got to choose what you ate. If you couldn't find a trade you either ate what you had or did without.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:51AM (#15816187) Homepage
    It's far easyer to tell someone "get in the car" then to explan to them why to get in the car, however, that work pays off, since you will probably not have to explan it to them next time. If people don't make decisions now, here's a no brainer: they NEVER will, or will make the worng ones. A babied socity is one that cannot think for itself, and by George W. Bush, that is what we have today. Think of the implacations of things before acting, or maybe you cannot because you don't know how to...
  • by mmalove ( 919245 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:08AM (#15816248)
    So they pay 33% taxes. So do we, the difference is in what you elect the government to spend the money on. They got free lunches, we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire solar system several times over. Now since it really doesn't matter who destroys the planet as we all die anyways, I'd rather have the free lunch.

  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:12AM (#15816266)
    the parents shouldn't control what their own children eat but corporations are allowed to use mass marketing in every waking moment of a childs life
    Well, yes. "Freedom" today does not extend past the right to be marketed to. If no one can make a buck off of you, then you aren't free. Actually I shouldn't say "today," because this has long been the working definition of freedom. Dictatorship before Castro? No worries. Dictatorship under Castro? Tyranny. Neither China nor Russia are strong on human rights, but you don't hear "tyranny!" anymore, because we're making money off of them, meaning they're as free as they need to be. If corporations are allowed to profit from your existence, then you are by definition free, and if they are not, then you are not free. You can't find many models of freedom with any support today that don't revolve around your right to buy stuff.

    Saying stuff can be restricted, reading stuff can be restricted, the gender of the adult you can marry can be restricted, your movement can be restricted, your access to a fair trial can be restricted, your ability to sue for redress from government wrongs can be restricted, but if any corporation is blocked from marketing to you or in some way making money off of you, then that is the very freedom for which the forefathers fought, and a great wrong has been committed. All other freedoms are really luxuries.

  • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:15AM (#15816274)
    There is another dynamic; high school age kids who either work after school and have access to their own money or have very generous allowances and can buy their own lunch and bring it to school.

    I think that it might be interesting to have a study of four groups of high school kids:

    Group One -- has the resources to buy what they want to for lunch and bring it to school

    Group Two -- doesn't have the resources to buy their own lunches, and their moms tell the school what they can buy for lunch

    Group Three -- doesn't have the resources to buy their own lunches and their moms don't tell the school what they can buy for lunch

    Group Four -- doesn't have the resources to buy their own lunches and their moms pack their lunch

    Groups Two and Three assume that school lunches are prepaid by the parents and/or the government

    What is the difference in the nutrition in the lunches that the kids in these four groups actually consume?

    Ten years after high school graduation, which group produced the healthiest adults?, the happiest adults?
  • by tumbleweedsi ( 904869 ) <simon,painter&gmail,com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:34AM (#15816366) Homepage
    First off I want to point out the similarities between this issue and one we discussed earlier and I made my position quite clear here [].

    Parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children and this means teaching them to make the right choices in life and guiding them to make resposible and informed decisions. It also includes protecting them from both the dangers around them and also from themselves while you teach them things like self discipline.

    While I admire the idea behind this, it's a bit like Net Nanny in that it will circumvented in an instant by a smart kid and is a poor substitute to correctly educating a child in the dangers of poor eating habits. Maybe it could be adapted so that instead of blocking poor food choices it alerts the parents so that they can be made aware of their failures as a parent and then take action to educate their offspring into making better food choices.

    This is just 'lazy parenting' and that breeds lazy kids. It is a parenting style which fails to take resonsibility and that just breeds kids who do not take responsibility. I have been amazed at the 'fat camp' approach to parenting which has spread from the US to the UK in recent years... if your kid is fat then it is because YOU are a bad parent and that's the end of it, just as if your kid meets someone on the internet who rapes and murders them then YOU are to blame for not educating them in the dangers of the internet, for not supervising them correctly and also for letting them go and meet someone they met on the internet (or not knowing they were doing so). I personally think parents with obese children (who continue to spoil them with twinkies) should be prosecuted for child abuse because they are negatively affecting their child's long term physical and emotional health.

    Technology will never replace parenting skills and in this case although it could be useful to monitor what a child is eating so you can speak to them about it, putting blocks on foodstuffs will just increase the likelyhood that your child will move their illicit junk food habits underground.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:35AM (#15816370) Homepage
    My parents controlled what I ate in a very easy and non-technical way. They gave me a bag lunch. Granted, I didn't always eat it, and sometimes I grabbed fast food if I had some extra cash lying around, but most of the time I just ate what was in my lunch. I was a teenager, and didn't have a lot extra money lying around. At least, not money that I wanted to waste on things like food when I could be buying more interesting things. I really don't understand parents who buy lunch for their kids from the school cafeteria. It takes about 10 minutes to make them a much healthier and cheaper lunch, or even less time to just point them in the direction of the fridge (once they are old enough to make their own lunch). If they get in the habit of buying their lunch everyday, they are going to do the same thing in adulthood, and end up spending more money than they need to. I'm done school and work full time now, and still bring my lunch with me. Not because I don't have the money, but because it's healthier, tastes just as good, if not better, and lets me spend my cash on more interesting things.
  • by Da_Weasel ( 458921 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:54AM (#15816460)
    If you are feeding them properly at home then the fact that they have a less than healthy meal at school should not matter. There should not be anything so unhealthy on the school menu that eating it will devistate a diet. If you kids diet is that important than you should get off of your lazy ass and take the time to make them a lunch that taste good and fits their diet, and try not to make it too obvious that they are one one. Fat kids really don't need yet another reason to be picked on in high school...

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:01AM (#15816512)
    Thank you for saying everything that I wanted to say in a few short sentences.
    People who believe that some mythical "good parenting" exists that will result in kids always being well-behaved doesn't know kids.
  • by slapout ( 93640 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:21AM (#15816618)
    Now hold on just a minute. (I'm not replying to you personally, but to Slashdot in general.) All these Slashdotters complain that parents should take more responiblity for their kids. They say they should be there to guide them thru the tv landscape and turn off things that are inapporiate. But now, when a parent tries to take some responiblity in their child's life, you complain about that too!
  • by Roody Blashes ( 975889 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:15AM (#15816945) Homepage Journal
    The Slashbot and Troll Unbiased Primary Insight Diagram does not include reasoning which leads to the above opinion on the related matter. Common causes for deviating from the Primary Diagram include the following:

    1. Posts utilizing "common sense".
    2. Posts resulting from "informed users".
    3. Posts attempting to obtain a fair compromise on an issue.

    Specifically, your post above violates the following principle(s) which have been listed as approved opinions that may be posted on Slashdot:

    1. All activities engaged in by children, being pure and innocent, and never engaging in any behavior beyond the bounds set by "good" parents, which are not sanctioned as acceptable by the Slashdot population, are a direct result of poor parenting.

    2. All monitoring, on any level, in any capacity, by any person and of any person, for any reason or goal, is strictly a matter of Big Brotherism and is to be abhorred without question or additional information, the circumstances not bearing relevance on the approved opinion.

    Please immediately cease and desist all activites which may be characterized as "free thinking", "reasoned", or "rational". Failure to comply may result in poor moderation which could lead to the removal of your posting ability for pre-determined amounts of time, or for your posts to be removed from a threshold visible by normal users. However, note that the moderation system should not be construed as a form of censorship.

    The Slashdot Pre-approved User and Troll Unbiased Moderation Committee thanks you for your cooperation. Together, we can make slashdot a wonderful place to mouthbreathe.
  • by the phantom ( 107624 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:23AM (#15817000) Homepage
    Overprotective parents are going to be overprotective, no matter what you do. Hell, I would imagine that the most overprotective parents would pack lunches for their kids, and not pay for school lunches. This is a program that allows parents to have some control over what their money buys in the school lunch program, and can still enable kids to have a choice in what they eat. Certainly, there are overprotective parents that will ruin their children's ability to function in the real world, they they are going to do that, anyway. This changes nothing in that regard.

    On another note, people on Slashdot whinge constantly about parents not doing a good job of raising their children. This looks like an example of parents trying to do something about raising their children, yet the reaction is largely negative?! Yay for groupthink.
  • by the phantom ( 107624 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:34AM (#15817089) Homepage
    [blockquote]Kids are not stupid , you know .[/blockquote] Yes, they are.

    Okay, maybe they are not [i]stupid[/i]. They are ignorant, naive, and not fully developed. They have not seen what drugs / uprotected sex / &c. can do to them (or others), and they assume that life won't happen to them. The are immortal and invincible. They are not fully developed adults, and should not be treated as such.

    Its funny, 10 years ago, I would have agreed with just about everything you said in your post. Let the kids experiment, let them learn right from wrong on their own. Now, I am glad that my parents did set up limits. I recognize that 10 years ago, many of the decisions that I made at the time were pretty fucking boneheaded. I am glad that my parents put limits on what I could do, and that I didn't manage to do more damage to myself than I did. I certainly feel that teenagers should have fewer limits placed upon them than, say, 8 year olds, but that does not change the fact that they are, for the most part (there are always exceptions), not adults, and do not behave as such. xander
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @11:06AM (#15817322)
    there must be something awfully wrong with the current crop of kids. Because "kids" of that age are what throughout most of human history were the _adults_, and perfectly capable of functioning as adults.

    Um, yeah. That was then, this is now.

    The further life expectancy gets pushed back, the further back onset of adulthood will move with it. Maybe when people were lucky to live to 40, it made sense to think of a 14-year-old boy as an adult. Now that people in the first world regularly live to be 80 or 90, why shouldn't the adolescent period expand to encompass the entirely of the teenage years and even much of the 20's?

    To address your topic sentence: no, I don't think that the human species was always based on babysitting your kid until the age of 21. It was based on always babysitting your kid until the age of self-sufficience.

    Three hundred years ago, self-sufficience might have meant knowing how to tend a farm, and having enough hair on your nuts to knock up the girl next door so you can make some farmhands together. Society has changed; young adults now know more, and HAVE to know more, than at any time in history. If it takes them until a few years after they start puberty to prepare themselves for the world, so be it.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @11:44AM (#15817566) Journal
    On another note, people on Slashdot whinge constantly about parents not doing a good job of raising their children. This looks like an example of parents trying to do something about raising their children, yet the reaction is largely negative?! Yay for groupthink.

    And that's just an example of the "if you're for X, then you must be automatically, unthinking pro any X-related solution" fallacy. It's like saying "if you like water, then you shouldn't mind having your house flooded." Or "if you were saying that the government should do something about unemployment, then you shouldn't mind an euthanasia program to get rid of those." Or "if you're not for terrorism, you must support the war in Iraq and the PATRIOT act." That bogus. Just seeing that a problem X exists, doesn't mean any wrong solution is automatically worthy of unconditional support.

    It has nothing to do with group think. Sometimes a solution is just snake oil, and bad snake oil at that. That's all. Even if it proposes to address the right problem, it may be the kind that doesn't really solve anything, or even makes it worse. It can be of the calibre of using mercury to treat syphilis in the past: it didn't actually cure the disease, and only added mercury poisoning to the list of problems.

    It's not just that it'll make a few kids life even more nightmarish than it already is (e.g., see again the girl berated by her mom for buying 3 ounces of juice.) It's that even as solutions go, it's the kind of crap "solution" that tries to suppress the symptoms rather than fix the problem.

    The problem is that kids, just like adults, take decisions based on the pre-existing data and habits they have. They're doing what they've learned from their parents, and by that I also mean immitating what they see daddy doing. They're pretty much pre-programmed to. (Hence, "do as I say, not as I do" doesn't really work.) Or if mommy and daddy weren't available for that, what they've seen Tom, Dick and Harry down the road doing.

    The correct solution is to give them enough data and personal example to make a good decision, not to just build more barriers against the symptoms. If a kid's only knowledge about food, for example, is along the lines of "if I try to buy something bad the alarm rings", what do you do when they grow up and no longer have that artifficial surveillance? Or is it ok to go obese and diabetic in the 20's, just because it's not your responsibility any more? Or what do you do about them trading lunches to get past such restrictions? Is it ok just because now you have an online checklist as a conscience lullaby?

    Solutions that just suppress the symptoms are often worse than no solution at all. They just maintain a false facade of everything being all right, when everything really isn't. They allow a bad parent to seemingly see results out of crap "explanations" like "because I said so" or "as long as you're in my house, you'll do as I say and stop asking why", and get back to watching the football game. But the problem is still there. As soon as that kid gets out of surveillance range (summer camp, college, growing up, whatever), he still doesn't know what not to do and _why_ not to do them.

    If the only thing bad about a certain act or food is that "daddy say so", guess what will happen when daddy isn't around to say so? If the only rule they know about something is that is tied to living in your house, guess what follows logically when they're _not_ in your house? Etc.

    In a nutshell, that's why: because it's the wrong solution.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:10PM (#15817783) Homepage
    Counterpoint: Being an adult today is in some ways a much more complicated affair than being an adult back in the bad ol' days. Not more dangerous, just more complicated.

    How hard was getting married back then? Your parents selected your mate, helped you build your own little shack, and then the two of you might set about running the farm until you both died of dysentery. Or there was a war, in which case your menfolk were handed crude weapons and told to run towards the other menfolk with their crude weapons and do their best to kill them. Only the rich and the professional soldiers really had the leisure time to learn to truly master their weapons.

    For other skills, you generally inherited the trade of your father. This made a certain sense, because you'd probably seen the trade done your entire life.

    What I'm saying is, everyone was dirt poor, so out of necessity life was kept simple enough that a clever twelve year old could thoroughly master it. We couldn't afford to have kids sitting around, getting thoroughly educated. We needed them to be immediately productive: fetching wood and water, building things, running at menfolk with crude weapons.

    In modern times, success in life comes from... well, inherited wealth, but that's a rant for another time. But we have an absurdly complex society, running on technologies and social innovations that are absolute magic to most people. But we desperately need people to understand these systems, not only for the benefits they can bring to society, but also the dangers.

    Take the social innovation of credit. Credit has probably been around in one form or another since before we could technically be considered "human". But these days there are such a wide variety of vehicles for credit that it would take years to truly understand them. But every adult needs to understand something about credit, and we see the harm that comes when people are loaned more money than they have the capacity to repay. We have kids leaving college with tens of thousands in credit card debt. We have creditors making risky housing loans in booming housing markets, hoping that the families have to default in a few years so the creditors can sell the house at its new, inflated value. We have creditors encouraging people to take out home equity loans to finance vacations (the stupidest thing you can do this side of setting your own hair on fire).

    Even reasonable, well-educated people can make huge mistakes with credit, and that's just one of the many pitfalls you need to know about before you can truly function in this society. Since the ability to function as an equal participant in society is pretty much the working definition of adulthood, and society has become vastly more complicated, I think it's fair to say that the age of adulthood is rising dramatically.

    Food choices are another one of those things that has gotten vastly more complicated over the last few hundred years. It used to be that there were a relatively small number of food choices available. You learned how to prepare those, and then you ate them. That summary glosses over a lot of hard work and a lot of skill, but there weren't many decisions to make. Now--at least in the developed world--we have more calories sloshing around than we know what to do with. Getting the necessary calories for survival has become absolutely dirt cheap.

    But we've put the responsibility of food production into the hands of people who are required to maximize profits instead of human health. This fact leads to a few odd conclusions: While food production is made as cheap as possible, food consumption must be made as expensive as possible. This means adding "value" to the food manufacturing process by adding steps that increase the price and amount of food being sold. For example, you can sell a person twenty pounds of corn, or you can use the corn as feed to produce one pound of beef. Or you can turn it into high-fructose corn syrup to put in anything you want people to gobble u
  • by boingo82 ( 932244 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:10PM (#15817784) Homepage
    It also wasn't that long ago that the options for "what to eat" did not include Velveeta brand plastic cheese, and fried chicken and pizza drowned in ranch sauce, which was the lunch of choice at my high school.*

    Keep in mind that they didn't start pumping food full of HFCS and trans fats until 20-30 years ago.

    It's not the genetic code, it's the availability of cheap, processed CRAP for food.

    Teenagers are notoriously bad at making pleasure-now-vs.-health-later decisions. There's no reason the parents shouldn't be able to dictate what they eat, especially when the parents are paying for it.

    *Why do they go on and on in health class about healthy eating, and then at lunch your choices are

    • canned peas, lukewarm
    • "fruit" cocktail in heavy syrup
    • fried chicken and pizza
  • by ac3boy ( 638979 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @12:13PM (#15817808)
    I fully agree. I do not think I truly understood life until 23-24. It just kina clicked and suddenly I could take a nap in the afternoon while watching sports. That is when I knew I was an adult.

    Seriously though, most kids do believe they are invincible and they will never die. There is nothing wrong with trying to guide them at home or out. Any tool that can be created to help parents guide their children is a good thing to me.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.