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Government United States Games Politics

Apps For Healthy Kids — Where PC Meets PCs 186

theodp writes "Put the Grand Theft Auto, Halo, and Madden away, kids! Over at Apps for Healthy Kids, First Lady Michelle Obama has a whole new slate of games for you to play with! Voting on entries in the White House-backed game development competition has begun, and you'll find exciting titles like Balanced Meal (6 votes), Blubber Blaster (9 votes), Calorie Quest (10 votes), and Count Peas (7 votes) — and that's just for starters."
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Apps For Healthy Kids — Where PC Meets PCs

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  • by Finallyjoined!!! ( 1158431 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:34AM (#32941586)
    Would be to not let "Kids" near a PC.
  • by BlkRb0t ( 1610449 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:57AM (#32941636)
    That's not possible in the current scenario, PC's are everywhere and kids are going to see them and be curious about them. It's better that you teach them how to use it properly than making it a restriction. If you don't let them near one then they are going to seek it out from outside which maybe worse than what you intended to do.
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:15AM (#32941686) Homepage

    Of course, when it comes to killing children's intrest I think the whitehouse is using much more effective techniques than your suggested violence. I mean these apps sound about as tasty as brussels' sprouts with brown rice.

    You can keep children away from books by forcing them to read moby dick just as easily. More effective than the death penalty they use in Iran, in my opinion.

  • by flajann ( 658201 ) <fred.mitchell@g m x .de> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:23AM (#32941702) Homepage Journal
    Now the government wants to start influencing our kids at the gaming level? Eeeewwwwwww! How creepy is that?

    Government, leave our kids the hell ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Physical games (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Timmmm ( 636430 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:26AM (#32941718)

    What they should reaally do, is physical games. I.e. like Wii Fit, but not really boring. E.g. something like whack-a-mole, but with boxing instead of a hammer!

  • by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:55AM (#32941786) Journal

    Backwards? But it isn't just about the exercise. It's also about social skills. Keep them "safely" indoors all day and, well, you know what happens... you'll have met kids like this in forums and online games. They are not pleasant to be with; they are rude, selfish people, and it's because they are poorly socialised. Some of them are technically adults - they are the saddest examples. We can get used to ignoring the flames, the trolls and the gamer rage on the Internet, but imagine how such people cope in the real world. "Not very well" is the answer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:23AM (#32941842)
    Well, they're not overweight, they can't afford drugs, many of them are devoutly religious and willing to die for their beliefs. Sounds like model citizens to me.
  • Keep it up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pieisgood ( 841871 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:26AM (#32941848) Journal

    No seriously, good job. You're sure to reel in the fatties with titles like "blubber blaster". I'm sure the most popular game is going to be something like "Lardass Limbo" and "Stop eating so much fatty". With titles like that, I'm sure the kids will start playing them by the droves. /sarcasm

    Do they think kids are that stupid?

  • by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:29AM (#32941856)

    Yes, it can be as simple as weigh change = calories in - calories burned. The complications are that the type of foods and eating habits make a difference and that cutting back on calories alone can't affect significant weight loss. A starvation diet going below 1200 calories a day with zero exercise (which usually backfire, btw) can only drop 1 lb of weigh a week. The best best is diet improvment and getting mild to moderate exercise.

    Besides, there is more to health than simply weigh. Percent fat and cardio health are just as important. Dieting your way to a skinny body doesn't imply that you have either. You might just be an out of shape, weak hearted thin person. That 200-lb guy that runs ironman will probably outlive you.

    I agree on the commercialization of weight loss. Too many diet products on the shelves when the answer is get off the f-ing couch, do a bit of exercise, and stop buying crap food that puts on lbs like Doritos, Taco Bell, McDonalds.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:29AM (#32941858)

    As far as road safety goes, where I am in the UK, it's far safer than it was in the 1960s. Quite the opposite of parents perception:
    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1208 [statistics.gov.uk]

    It seems to me that one of the drivers of increased safety has been deliberate raising of the public's awareness. Increased awareness creates a perception of things getting worse, whilst actually causing things to get better.

    I would imagine research into child abduction, abuse and murder would also produce results contrary to expectation.

    I have no kids, but if I did, I'd give them as much freedom to roam as I had when I was a child. I certainly wouldn't be driving them everywhere.

  • by neumayr ( 819083 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:36AM (#32941880)
    My judgement isn't based on the title alone, rather the whole context in which they're produced.
    Comparing a US gov't project to something Nintendo pulled off doesn't work very well..
  • by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:11AM (#32941976)

    you'll find exciting titles like Balanced Meal (6 votes), Blubber Blaster (9 votes), Calorie Quest (10 votes), and Count Peas (7 votes)

    Notably absent is "Stay Safe - avoid being sent to fight wars for your government".

  • Re:Keep it up! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:11AM (#32941978)

    Do they think kids are that stupid?

    Yes they do.

  • Or instead... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:21AM (#32941996)
    On the one hand, we can continue to encourage kids to play video games and be antisocial, and hope that games with anti-fast-food themes will out-compete games like Halo. On the other hand, we can encourage kids to not play video games, and spend their time outdoors socializing and engaging in physical activity with each other, and hope that such activity will out-compete video games. Gee, which plan is going to be more effective (not that either one will be enormously effective)?

    Of course, if we devote as much effort to telling kids that hang out with each other and play outdoors as we do to telling them that there is something wrong with enjoying the effects of drugs, we will hurt the profits of the corporations that produce video games. Since "the business of the United States is business," any plan that involves hurting corporate profits is a plan that will never actually happen.
  • Re:Keep it up! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grygus ( 1143095 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:27AM (#32942018)
    And why shouldn't they? Look what the parents have been putting up with from their politicians for the last ten years.
  • Re:Keep it up! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:42AM (#32942082)
    They're not marketing them to the kids: they're marketing them to the parents. The parents will buy "Blubber Blaster" and "encourage" their kids to use it. Of course, it'll probably stay on the shelf but the parents will feel good that they "did" something - kind of like the folks who buy the exercise equipment, use it once or twice, and give up.

    In the meantime, the parents still buy the kids Coke, potato chips, crap from fast food joints (if it has a takeout window, it's crap), and they watch their parents sit in front of the TV all night.

    I saw this guy buy his little pudgeball one of those 20oz Cokes the other day. She was 8 years old and already a fatty.

  • by nu1x ( 992092 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:48AM (#32942106)

    > Especially limit exposure to shows/games that use a lot of sarcasm or display/infer violence. Your kid isn't going to be a serial killer because they play violent games but they do model what they see and if you want them to learn how to interact successfully with others then make sure they see / hear / live in way that is what you consider healthy.

    Not really, regarding modeling. Many (most ?) kids are capable of differentiating between modeling the internal vs. the external world, as in, they can take all the sarcasm, blood and gore, and still understand the "abstraction" part behind it. I spent a lot of time around certain kids growing up, and while they were certainly above the norm intellectually, by the age of about 12, every abstract thing you throw at them they can take just dandy.

    What is much more dangerous, is not having the valve for gore and brutality - you may think it strange, but it is necessary. I've seen kids ruined by over-protective parents. In other words, I've noticed that true demons among kids are those who have not noticed pain and suffering in the world, and esp. those who have not felt pain and personal loss - not saying that you should traumatize your kids, far from it - what I am getting at is that kids need to go outside, for example, take a camping trip - and not experience comfort for once - but the mud, the hunger and hardship - these are the things that make kids appreciate it in others and become more helpful.

    Also, boys (maybe I am coming off as sexist here, whatever) tend to naturally seek out sources of pain in real life while playing. But it is healthy - broad spectrum of experience defines us as persons.

    Not sheltering them or making them "model" some behaviour on rote level, but rather, leading them to understand root causes and relationships of this world, is a better approach.

    World-proof your kids.

  • by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:49AM (#32942110)
    Modded "Flamebait" eh?

    Well, rest assured that you're right and at least I know it.

    My wife is in medical and it's a HUGE problem among kids because they're not getting enough exercise and the biggest culprits are video games and lack of greenspace for kids to run around - suburban American life is making kids fat. She asks the kids what they do all day: sit in school, go home and do home work and then sit and play video games - all of them have that story.

    And being fat at such a young age leads to horrible health consequences later on: diabetes and all the issues with that, heart disease, high blood pressure and all the issue with that, etc....

    Our health costs are just going to continue to balloon because of this and we're, of course, going to blame the insurance companies, big pharma, and everyone else but ourselves.

  • Winning Concept (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crow_t_robot ( 528562 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:57AM (#32942152)
    If you want to make a game to encourage kids to be healthy, make a really shitty game like the orginal E.T. for Atari. Kids will play it for about 2 minutes before turning it off and going outside to make a tree-house.
    In my opinion, making a good game and encouraging physical fitness and healthy eating are mutually-exclusive activities. I can tell when I have bought a really good game by the amount of time I have been stuck in the house glued to the game and all the garbage food I eat while playing it because I'm too busy to get up and prepare a healthy meal.
  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:01AM (#32942442)

    How about having good food in school. Not low cost high fat stuff? also give the kids time to eat so they use the full 30 min lunch standing in line to just have 10 min or less to eat it. NO MORE recess time shared with launch. Make it it's own time.

  • How about having good food in school. Not low cost high fat stuff? also give the kids time to eat so they use the full 30 min lunch standing in line to just have 10 min or less to eat it. NO MORE recess time shared with launch. Make it it's own time.

    Yes, this. Also, have a class that teaches kids how to cook. A lot of kids move into adult life not knowing how to prepare any food more complicated than macaroni & cheese, so it's no wonder they go to McDonald's when they're tired of their diet of mac&cheese, ramen noodles and ordering pizza.

    30 minutes is enough time to eat if you brought your lunch from home. Otherwise, it's insane.

  • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:15AM (#32942798)

    Government, leave our kids the hell ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yeah, how dare the government want to make children healthier.

    Perhaps your rage would be better reserved for the fast food companies who use similar tactics to influence kids to eat shit.

  • by Chowderbags ( 847952 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:50PM (#32943358)

    Talk WITH them for a significant part of every day, even if you have something more important to do.

    They're your kids. Raising them is the most important thing you have to do.

  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <rodrigogirao@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:58PM (#32943804) Homepage
    That rise was all because of the nonsensical "war on (some) drugs".
  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @02:30PM (#32943974) Homepage Journal


    It's perfectly alright for CORPORATE America to spend millions every morning, pitching their poisonous wares to impressionable young minds. But, let "da gubbermint" get in on the act, and lo and behold, it's an evil scheme!

    "Eat an apple instead of that Ding Dong, Susie, it will make you healthier!"

    Mommy screams, "Don't listen to that television, Susie! It's all GOVERNMENT LIES!! You can't believe ANYTHING the government tells you!"

  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @02:38PM (#32944042)

    How easy is it to get decent "ready meals" (in American: TV dinners?) in the US? I think Britain is pretty much a world leader in this (there's nowhere near as much variety or quality meals available in the rest of Europe, but it's a while since I was in the US).

    Here ready meals are available from less than £1 to over £5 per portion, with a wide variety of dishes (perhaps 80 options in a small inner-city supermarket, large [mysupermarket.co.uk] supermarkets [mysupermarket.co.uk] have hundreds [mysupermarket.co.uk]). It's not so difficult to avoid anything unhealthy, and mostly the nutrition info is prominently shown on the front. The ones costing £3 or more tend to be better than what I can cook from scratch for myself in a reasonable time (e.g. this [mysupermarket.co.uk].)

    (Some of this stuff [mysupermarket.co.uk] is ridiculous. Can't people microwave a potato any more?!)

    Supermarket pizza [mysupermarket.co.uk] is still cheaper though, and plenty of young people can't cook very well.

    Lunchtime at school is one hour (I think that's a legal requirement...), and every school I've seen staggers when various classes are allowed to go and queue.

  • Re:Simpsons... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck@ m q d u c k . n et> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:08PM (#32946050)

    The whole concept of “being manly and fighting is bad” smells of the matriarchal sexism that is so fashionable nowadays.

    I'd say it's your idea of "being manly" that's sexist. Saying that fighting is bad is neither sexist, nor is it going with the mainstream; our culture fucking loves violence.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @12:32AM (#32947394)
    "(weight loss) = (calories in) - (calories exercised)"

    This is even simpler to dispel by any sane halfway intelligent human. Every human on the planet either has an anus, or some medically constructed equivalent. The calorie counter group loves to throw out the laws of thermodynamics. Well, clearly they don't understand it, because as long as you have a functioning anus, it is physically impossible for their calculation to be accurate.
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:42AM (#32950906) Homepage Journal

    Even though I wasn't around in the 50's, the world that my parents describe growing up in was a much safer place.

    I was around in the '50s (born in 1952), and I assure you the world is far safer today. Take automobiles -- the cars back then had drum brakes, rather than antilock disk brakes. There were no seat belts, let alone air bags. The autos' dashes were steel, the cars had no crumple zones.

    There were no bicycle helmets; a kid that lived around the block from me died froim a head injury after wrecking his bicycle.

    The media is to blame, making it LOOK like it was safer. From the newspapers you'd think there's a child molester on every street corner waiting for some unwary parent to tke his/her eyes of the child, but the fact is most molestations are from family members, friends, or clergy. It's just that they were hushed up back then; a family around the block from me in the late 50s/early 60s had two children that were molested by their own fathers.

    The same goes for child abductions. In this case there are more, but again, the reason is that there were few divorces compared to today. Most abductions are the child's own parent who loses custody kidnapping the kid; there is virtually no chance of your child being abducted by a stranger.

    There were criminals, but society didn't just give them a slap on the wrist when they were found.

    Absolute bullshit. Penalties have gotten more and more harsh as time has gone by. There were no "three strikes laws" or sex offender registries back then.

    As you have pointed out, there was always somebody there who knew who should and should not be around.

    Nope. Incorrect, wrong. We'd get on our bicycles and be gone all day. A dozen of us would play baseball in the vacant field all afternoon without being bothered or hassled by a single adult, and IMO it was good for us.

    Another factor that I think is important and have seen take a sharp decline even in my lifetime is the general morality.

    What appears to be a decline in morality is actually a decline in hypocracy. Now as then, most people were good, honest folks, but there have always been thieves, adulterors, and the like. The difference is that the antisocial thieves who ran corporations were a bit more discrete in their antisocial theivery. Now they revel in it and rub our noses in it, and it's seen as normal.

    These days, I would be more concerned of the other children and the influences of society than the actual criminals.

    That hasn't changed a bit. There were always bad parents with bad kids, although with most kids now being raised by babysitters and in child care centers, there are more bad kids, because they're not getting the love they need.

    Another big factor is that spanking is now seen as abuse. Today's spoiled brats could use a few good swats.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!