Are we poisoning our children?

Many of us buy our children cycling helmets, make sure they stay belted in the cars, buy best quality non-toxic stationary and toys… now if someone accuses us slow poisoning our children, we will of course be offended. But sadly it is true. Indian Council of Medial Research and National Institute of Occupational Hazard reports confirm that indiscriminate use of pesticide is poising our children. Well, assuming of course that your family eats some fruits and vegetables, and that they are procured locally and not imported from some organic farm in Europe.

Compelling documentary. In three parts, perhaps because of YouTube limitations.

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Junk food — just what the doctor ordered?

For sometime now I have held this belief that we need to market healthy food to kids as if it were junk food. I sometimes ‘joke’ that if we were to stop our children from eating spinach and carrots along with chips they just might find the former two a little more attractive.

I have actually noticed that kids who are not at all happy to eat vegetable will often happily eat a baked dish loaded with vegetables. Kids who will spit out the ‘pallak’ that comes with the ‘paneer’ will often relish a spinach and corn baked. Well, at least mine do (small sample size, I know). To test the theory I once toyed with the idea of starting a fast-food restaurant for kids that served only ‘junk food’. Well, that is what it would be ‘marketed’ as to the kids, but actually the food would be healthy and balanced. I even thought up part of the menu, branding, packaging… Unfortunately you cannot always cook everything you can think up, and the idea stayed untested…

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Exercise and play helps students in the classroom

Here is some news for the academic minded parents and schools: “…brain activity and brain development are enhanced by physical exercise. It now appears that exercise can help kids learn at school.”  Listen to the NPR story…

According to study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) “students benefit both physically and academically from time devoted during the school day to physical activity”. Read this story…

Need more evidence? See this video by Stuart Brown at TED.  His research shows that “play is not just joyful and energizing — it’s deeply involved with human development and intelligence”.

Recommendation: Let them play! Influence schools and public policy (private colonizers?) to recognize this and create facilities for play in schools and in localities.

Content rating for kids?

A study in the US has found that “TV ratings don’t accurately reflect the aggressive content found in shows popular among children — even cartoons”.

And what do you say to parents who take their 10-year-olds, 3-year-olds and even 9-month-olds to adult cinema? Not so long ago I left a late-night movie half-way because I found it disturbing/horrific… perhaps a little scary. But mothers with babies stuck to their bosoms stayed on…

Nobody seems to care that our daily newspapers are full of adult content. And kids’ programming on TV is interspersed with promos of late-night movies with loads of sex and violence.

I don’t have a problem with adult content per se, as long as media takes reasonable measures to keep it away from kids. The media is being completely irresponsible, but the day the government puts in a legislation mandating that they seek censor certificates for all their content, they will be the first ones to complain about government high-handedness.

Is Kindle 2 about to replace us in our family bed-time ritual?

Will the new Kindle read bed-time stories to our kids? Can it? Will it? Should it?

TV has proven its worth as a baby-sitter, across cultures! Social networking has effectively come to represent what we do using a browser and not what we do in our living rooms or parks and sports fields… This is a logical next step. Right?

The only loud objection one can hear is coming from the Author’s Guild of America. They don’t have a problem with the product… actually they suspect it may be very good. What they want is that the authors be sufficiently compensated for the audio rights being bundled into the Kindle 2.

Read the op-ed at the New York Times: The Kindle Swindle?
IHT says “The Kindle: Good before, better now
Read about the open standards debate at wired

Too much screen/media time linked to depression

Kids who are exposed to too much screen time (TV, Computers, video games, iPodsâ?¦) during their teen years are likely to display depression symptoms later. Science News article says:

“Exposure to more television and other electronic media during the teenage years appears to be associated with developing depression symptoms in young adulthood, especially among men, according to a report in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry…”